By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on Monday said he plans to meet with House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. to agree on the “parameters of amendments” before the Senate decides on a proposal for a bicameral conference committee to resolve the Road Board abolition.
In an interview with reporters after a caucus by the senators on Monday, Mr. Zubiri said some senators wanted to maintain the Senate position on the issue — which is to adopt the House bill on the abolition of the Road Board — while he and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, among others, wanted amendments to the bill to make it more transparent.
For the Senate to adopt the House bill means there would be no need for a bicameral committee, which Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said is his chamber’s stand.
“Generally, the sentiment was there is no need for a bicam because we have adopted the House version. We tasked Senator Zubiri, the Majority Leader, to talk to the Majority leader of the House, Congressman Andaya, to find out their reasons why there is a possibility that we can go into a bicam….Nothing official, it’s just talk,” Mr. Sotto III told reporters.
Mr. Zubiri said the senators then agreed on a meeting between the majority leaders of both chambers to settle this matter.
House Bill No. 7436 seeks to have the road user’s tax remitted directly to the National Treasury and to be appropriated for the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Transportation.
Mr. Zubiri said, “Our list of amendments is very simple, that the Road Board be abolished and secondly that the funds be reverted to the National Treasury so the government can use it for whatever purpose necessary. At the same time, it is a line item. It will be transparent.”
“If the House and Senate agree to the parameters, we can do a paper bicam…(meaning) we are in agreement with the amendments. We may have a quick meeting to approve on our side, to approve the House side and we sign the documents,” Mr. Zubiri said.
“We still need to create (a bicam panel) if and when we agree on the parameters. So this is all still hanging until we meet with Majority Leader Nonoy Andaya,” he added.
Mr. Andaya, for his part, said, “It was very clear that he (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) wanted the funds of the Road Board to be used for the budget,…specifically to repair the damaged areas of the typhoon,” Mr. Andaya, who represents the 1st district of Camarines Sur, said in a briefing.
“That kind of statement requires a certain amount of work,” said the House majority leader who also represents the 1st district of Camarines Sur.
He said House Bill No. 7436, as adopted by the Senate, does not contain any provision that will carry out the President’s directive.
“The bill proposed by both Houses is totally opposite (what) the President wants as proposed now,” Mr. Andaya said. with Charmaine A. Tadalan