Press Release
December 17, 2013

Tap P12-B road user's tax for road safety

With one vehicular accident occurring every seven minutes in Metro Manila alone, a senator has called for the "wise utilization" of the portion of the multibillion-peso road user's tax collection earmarked by law for road safety.

By Senator Ralph G. Recto's calculation, about P800 million - representing the mandatory 7.5 percent - of the P11.7 billion collected last year from motor vehicle registration fees, is the minimum amount available annually for "road safety" programs.

"Actually, all collections from road user's tax must be spent for road safety. That's the end objective. But there's a provision in the law specifically setting aside 7.5 percent of what's collected for road safety," the Senate President Pro-Tempore said.

He was referring to Republic Act 8794 which tucks in a Motor Vehicle User's Charge in every vehicle's annual registration, based primarily on vehicle weight.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law states that 7.5 percent of total collections shall be placed in a "Special Road Safety Fund" and allotted for "roadway improvements and repairs designed to reduce conflicts in traffic flow and the likelihood and severity of accidents."

Recto explained that IRR allows the fund to be used, not only for "traffic signals, markings, lanes, traffic channelization techniques, traffic calming measures", but also for "road safety education and training programs."

This, according to Recto, can be invoked by authorities in buying "ambulances which can be stationed in traffic-prone highways, patrol cars which can run after overspeeding vehicles at night, and tow trucks to clear roads of stalled vehicles," he said.

"Kung tutuusin, sa pera palang ng RUT, pwede ng bumili ng mga tow trucks na kung hindi mura ang singil ay libre," Recto said.

Because road accidents are becoming a "national epidemic," Recto said government should "plow back" to motorists a portion of the car registration fees they have paid "in the form of reliable emergency accident response teams."

One lacking equipment, he said, are "jaws of life", the metal-cutting or -prying devices which can extricate passengers out of mangled vehicles.

He said MVUC payments should also be used to "light dark places especially tunnels and underpasses."

MVUC collections, he added, should also pay for garage inspections of bus, taxi, truck, garbage truck companies that will conduct road safety seminars for drivers and "to check if tires are so worn-out that the vehicles on which they are installed are now accidents waiting to happen."

"My point is that the carnage on the streets and the chaos on our roads should prompt a readjustment in MVUC spending. The body controlling it should depart 'from the traditional signs-asphalt overlay-reflectorized markers' that once dominated its expenditure list," Recto said.

MVUC spending is controlled by a seven-man Road Board chaired by the Secretary of Public Works and Highways. Its other members are the Budget, Finance and Transportation and Communications secretaries, and three private sector representatives appointed by the President.

MVUC collections, which are expected to hit more than P12 billion this year, are treated as "off-budget" items, meaning details of their spending are not included in the national budget.

MVUC collections are placed in four special accounts in the National Treasury : Special Road Support Fund (80%) , Special Local Road Fund (5%), Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (7.5%) and Special Road Safety Fund (7.5 %).

Recto made the call for the "maximization of MVUC" as a spate of lethal road accidents has hit the country recently.

In 2011, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the agency responsible for the region where nearly half of the country's 7.6 million motor vehicles are, reported 77,110 accidents.

Of that, 370, or one a day, resulted in fatalities; 15,827, or two every hour, were non-fatal injuries; and 60,913, or one every seven minutes, caused damage to property.

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