Road User's tax fund to be used for Manila Bay clean-up

By EJ Roque

January 8, 2019, 7:41 pm

MANILA --- Part of the funds from the Road User's Tax will be used to rehabilitate the Manila Bay, among other projects, Malacañang said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the clean-up will most likely be done in the manner the Boracay rehabilitation was carried, once the funds from the Road User's Tax are already diverted.

"In Boracay, marami ring stakeholders (there are also lots of stakeholders), but it required political will of the President and he will do it. To my mind, what is very important is finally we are going to start cleaning Manila Bay. Iyon ang importante doon - na umpisahan. (The important thing is to get it started)," he said.

Panelo said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu gave a timeline for the Manila Bay's rehabilitation, which will most likely be until the end of President Rodrigo R. Duterte's term.

"Ang laki ng Manila Bay eh. Ang daming rivers na lilinisin, ang daming esteros (Manila Bay is vast. There are lots of rivers to clean, lots of estuaries)," Panelo said.

Aid for areas affected by Tropical Depression Usman and hospitals in the country are the other projects that will be funded by the Road User's Tax once the Road Board gets abolished, Panelo added.

"Gusto ni Presidenteng i-abolish iyon (The President wants the Road Board abolished). ‘Pag na-abolish na iyon (Once it gets abolished), the funds there will be placed sa (in the) National Treasury; and then Congress will enact another law appropriating the funds there to do the specific purposes," he said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives, Panelo said, are still in a deadlock as the two bodies have yet to resolve whether they still need to meet in a bicameral conference committee before submitting the bill abolishing the Road Board to President Duterte for his signature.

Panelo said Senate President Vicente Sotto III sees no need for a bicameral conference committee meeting since the Senate already adopted the House of Representatives' version while House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. sees the need to hold one.

Duterte repeatedly called for the abolition of the Road Board, tagging it as a "milking cow" for corruption. (PNA)