The Senate should stand pat on its position that the measure abolishing the corruption-tainted Road Board has been validly passed by both houses of Congress, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.
In an interview with DZBB on Sunday, Drilon warned that if the Senate heeds the House of Representative's call for a bicameral conference committee despite the Senate's earlier move to adopt the lower house's version precisely to dispense with the bicam, there is a possibility that the 17thCongress will close without abolishing the Road Board.
"It is very important that we maintain our position that the bill to abolish Road Board has been validly passed," Drilon said.
Drilon said the proposal for the convening of the bicam on the abolition of the Road Board would mean that the Senate has to withdraw its adoption of the House version last September 12, 2018.
But Drilon said the danger and the possibility that the bicam panel will not come up with an approved version is always present.
"With all due respect, we don't agree to it. It's very simple: if we agree to convene the bicam, then it means the Senate has to reconsider its adoption of the House version like as if the bill was not passed," Drilon said.
He then asked: "What happens when the bicam fails to pass an approved version given that in months' time the 17thCongress would end?"
"Kung sa proposal ni Cong. Andaya ay magkaroon ng bicam, ibig sabihin ay dapat i-withdraw ng senate yung pag-adopt ng House version. Ibig sabihin, walang na-approved na batas. At kung hindi kami magkasundo sa bicam at patapos na ang kongreso, ibig sabihin magpapatuloy ang Road Board,"Drilon said in the interview.
"I'm not saying it's going to happen but there is a possibility," he added.
Drilon earlier explained that when the Senate adopted the House bill, there are no more disagreeing provisions, hence the measure is considered approved.
"Convening a bicam has no basis when there is no inconsistent or disagreeing provisions. The Senate's action made the bicam unecessary, which means the bill to abolish the corruption-plagued agency is already considered passed by both chambers, and should have long been sent to the President's desk for his signature," Drilon said.
The minority leader also said he will question the status of the road user's tax, saying that despite the agency's pronouncement that it stopped releasing funds as early as 2017, there were reports of fund releases made in 2017.
"We will look into it," he said.
Before it adjourned last month, the Senate, upon Drilon's motion, unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Office of the President to order the Road Board not to release funds from the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC), following the passage by both houses of Congress of the bill which would abolish the Road Board.
Source: Senate of the Philippines