Sen. Drilon pushes to eradicate controversial road board

By Jason de Asis


 SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 1, 2010-Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of Senate Committee on Finance has pushed to eradicate the controversial Road Board amidst allegations that the proceeds from the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) or road user’s tax redound to fraud.


Drilon said that even as Republic Act 8794 that created it cites specific purposes for its use such as maintenance of roads, improvement of drainage system, installation of road safety devices and air pollution control, the board oversees the disposal of the road user’s tax, has exclusive jurisdiction over the projects which will be funded by the proceeds from MVUC.


“We have heard saddening stories regarding the use of MVUC. The board is the one who determines the projects which happened during the Arroyo administration,” he added.


He questioned the board’s authority to appropriate public funds since only Congress can appropriate public funds.


Drilon calls for transparency in allocating the MVUC, saying that Congress must exercise its oversight functions as the MVUC is not included in the budget. “The funds must be deposited to the national treasury and subsequently appropriated by Congress in the budget,” he said, adding that the part of the fund misuse was its diversion from the specific purposes listed by law to payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance and other operating expenses.


The Senator added that the fund was even used for former President Arroyo’s OYSTER (out-of-school youth serving towards economic recovery) program, which is not a road maintenance project but a political accommodation program.


From 2001 up to the present, the road tax collected amounted to P64 billion collected from owners who are mandated by law to register their private, public as well as government vehicles annually at the Land Transportation Office. It is composed (road board) of four (4) Cabinet members from Public Works, Transportation, Budget, and Finance, with three (3) private sector representatives.


There were 41 projects amounting to some P360 million approved by the Road Board and funded by MVUC in the previous years even if the projects were not officially programmed by the Department of Public Works, adding that either the Board overrules the decision of the Public Works secretary or the secretary is in collusion with the Board.


Drilon stated that somebody is just playing around that is why there is so much flak that the MVUC is getting because of the corruption. (Jason de Asis)



Sen. Angara expressed his intentention to seek Spain’s help for RPs heritage conservation

By Jason de Asis



MADRID, Spain, November 1, 2010-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who is set to receive the Premio Casa Asia award, expressed his intent to seek Spain’s help for the Philippines persisting heritage conservation efforts inspired by Spain’s success in preserving their cultural treasures.


The cultural arm of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Casa Asia) will award the Senator for his exceptional efforts in reawakening the Philippine-Spanish relations, citing the creation of RA 9187 which declares June 30 as the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.


Angara will accept his award tomorrow when he plans to draw the attention of the Casa Asia members towards one of his main advocacies regarding the ongoing preservation and rehabilitation of the country’s historical sites.


He said millions of people visit their country because of their well-preserved historical sites and we must learn from them effectively, adding that the Philippines has a great potential for tourism industry.


The people of Spain can teach us in terms of hotel construction, training manpower, networking with tourism organizations and building a strategic tourism plan aside from promoting potential tourist attractions in which according to Angara, these initiatives would benefit and provide tourism boost to the economy and more jobs that it will create.


He explained, it is accurate to tap new markets and create more opportunities that would generate income and employment for the people, calling the attention of many historical and anthropological documents on colonial Philippines which stored in Spain’s archives and libraries.


Irreplaceable Spanish colonial documents can be found in the country, which could prove invaluable for historians from both countries.


“However, some of these documents are poorly stored in our museums, so we need Spain’s expertise in archival preservation and digitization. Also, these documents remain out of reach to most local historians fewer Filipinos can speak Spanish,” he lamented.


It could be remembered that he passed earlier this year in the 14th Congress the law that provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for the identification, preservation and restoration of old documents and artifacts, as well as monuments, old buildings, shrines, landmarks and other sites and items of historical value in the Philippines which he authored and known as the National Cultural Heritage. (Jason de Asis)