Press Release
February 28, 2009

Chiz: Use Road Users Tax to make roads safe

Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero on Friday called on the national government to make use of the Road Users Tax in order to make streets and major thoroughfares safer for pedestrians, especially children.

Escudero issued the call in light of the recent accident within the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City which claimed the life of a 10-year old fourth-grade last Wednesday.

"Beyond the fields of Ateneo lie grim statistics on child vehicular deaths. Road accidents have become the most prolific killer of Filipino children after pneumonia," he said, referring to a study cited by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The senator said that 7.5% of motor vehicles users charge law for road and pedestrian safety has earmarked collection.

"Under RA 8794 or Road User's Tax Law, 7.5 centavos for every peso paid for car registration should go to a special road safety fund. This year, out of a projected 8.9 billion road user's tax collection, an estimated 668 million should be funneled into this fund," Escudero explained.

Julian Carlo Miguel Alcantara, known to his friends as "Amiel," was inside the Ateneo campus with his 65-year-old nanny when he was reportedly hit by a van. He was rushed to the New Era Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival, while his nanny sustained injuries.

"Spent well and applied wisely, the whole road user's tax fund can bankroll engineering and education initiatives that will result in safe roads. Unfortunately, road user's tax has been caught in the wrong priorities," Escudero lamented.

He bared that in the year 2006, total collection from the Road Users Tax amounted to some P7.49 billion while P7.73 billion was raised in 2007. Last year, it stood at around P8.34 billion.

"More than 30 billion in road user's tax funds in four years has not made our streets any safer for kids. Road user's tax-spending should be re-focused to make schools, child safety zones," Escudero said.

He also stated that three-fifths of road accidents involve children pedestrians and that road mishaps are the leading cause of injury admission in hospitals, adding that according to child safety groups, six children die from accidents in the country daily.

"Overall the 7.8 traffic-related fatalities or an injury per 100,000 people a year is one of the highest in Asia according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The crush of some 20 million students and the rush to register new vehicles have increased the dangers of children going to school. But the latter should not be hazardous to their health and government has the resources to make it so," Escudero said.

"A driver can be fined for reckless speeding but who will fine the government for reckless spending of road user's tax funds?" Escudero ended.

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