Duterte wants to use road tax for flood control, river dredging in Bicol
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he will convince Congress to allow the government to use the road users taxes for flood control projects and dredging rivers in the Bicol region after it was struck by landslides and flashfloods because of Tropical Depression "Usman".
During a command conference in Pili, Camarines Sur, Bicol region officials shared their concern to the president about how the province experience floods because their rivers are not dredged.
"I strongly recommend the abolition of the road ( users) tax.. you and I know that it's a really milking cow for corruption. So it may happen maybe we can use the money here," Duterte said.
“I will talk to Senate President (Vicente Sotto III) and Speaker (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). I have no objection if it is abolished. I will really remove it. It cannot remain,” he added.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said out of the 122 fatalities due to landslides and floods, 105 deaths were recorded in Bicol.
Once he is able to convince Congress, Duterte said he will put the money in the Department of Public Works and Highways and commit to local government officials he will prioritize the province.
"I'm okay to prioritize you... I will commit to you that the first project that would be undertaken under that fund, if it's transferred to the DPWH or (Department of) Agriculture. I am okay. We'll start here,” he said.
Duterte also told officials they can use the funds for building safe relocation for residents in disaster-prone areas.
"If they would listen to my appeal to use the part of the money for the pressing problems of Bicol. It's about P46 billion, just right... I'm ready to spend the money to improve the topography of the place and make it safe for people to build houses or really just get out of those mountainous (areas)," he said.
"My promise is once the road tax is free, you will be the first recipient of the project,” Duterte said. Ella Dionisio/DMS