Law abolishing Road Board signed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — President Rodrigo Duterte has finally signed the law abolishing the graft-ridden Road Board.

The President enacted Republic Act (RA) 11239 on March 8, according to the document released by Malacañang on Tuesday. The law abolishes the Road Board, which previously manage the road user's tax or motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC) for repair and maintenance of roads. State auditors have repeatedly slammed the agency for supposed fund irregularities.

Under the law which takes effect 15 days after publication in state-run Official Gazette or in a major newspaper, the road users' tax will be transferred to the National Treasury to fund government projects under the budget law.

RA 11239 states that the fund should "be earmarked solely for the construction, upgrading, repair, and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and road drainage."

The secretaries of the departments of Budget, Public Works and Highways, and Transportation, craft the implementing rules and regulations within 30 days from the effectivity of the law.

House leaders previously insisted that the President did not want the Road Board abolished, but the President himself said otherwise in a speech.

In December 2018, Duterte said he would support the Senate's move to abolish the Road Board and called the agency a "milking cow" of corrupt government officials. The Commission on Audit has flagged billions of pesos worth of unimplemented and unobligated projects, and millions of pesos of excessive costs and overpayment.

From 2001 to May 2018, the board had collected ₱166.18 billion, of which only ₱136.87 billion have been released, according to the Senate. Then Budget chief Benjamin Diokno said the agency had a ₱45-billion fund surplus.