Road user's tax collections eyed for Manila Bay rehabilitation: Panelo

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2019 03:32 PM

The Manila bayfront is cleaned following rain-induced floods. The government is considering funding the area's rehabilitation with revenue from the road user's tax. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government is eyeing the use of revenue from the road user’s tax to fund the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Tuesday.

To allow this, the Road Board will have to be abolished and its collections returned to the Treasury, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Some P47 billion will be needed to clean Manila Bay, said Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

"The reason why President Duterte wants the Road Board abolished is for the funds from road user’s tax be placed to the national treasury. Congress will then enact another law appropriating the funds there to the specific purposes I mentioned," Panelo told reporters.

The plan was discussed at a recent Cabinet meeting, he said.

The rehabilitation will require the relocation of thousands of illegal settlers, whose household waste contribute to 70 percent of pollution in the area, DENR Spokesperson Jonas Leones earlier said.

The Pasig River and Laguna Lake, which both flow into Manila Bay, will also have to be cleaned up, he said.

Duterte is seeking the abolition of the Road Board, which has been dogged by allegations of corruption. The House of Representatives supports the President's position, according to Majority Leader Rolando Andaya.

The administration is also looking into using funds from the road user’s tax for the hospital needs of indigents and assistance for victims of tropical storm Usman.

The Road Board oversees funds from the Motor Vehicle User's Charge, which are supposed to be used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.

But the Commission on Audit has said the funds were being misappropriated, making it vulnerable to corruption.