By the time you finish reading this article there would have been 2, possibly 3 recorded vehicular accidents in the NCR alone. By the end of this working day, at least one, but more likely two people would have died, with another 90 or so seriously injured.
Vehicular accidents have hit pandemic proportions in the Philippines and it is getting gradually worse; in fact, there isn’t a pandemic in modern Philippine history that comes close to this death toll, and yet the government budgeted 3 times more on vaccines last year than they did for road safety––despite the fact that a special tax is collected exclusively for that purpose.
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend on vaccines; I’m simply saying that we need to treat road safety with the same urgency. Especially considering there’s a dedicated budget for precisely that. As it is now, our road safety efforts are as counter-productive as those billboards on the side of the highway telling you to keep your eyes on the road.
According to Senator Ralph Recto, if we follow the formula set by Republic Act 8794, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has access to P1.04 billion for “Special Road Safety Fund” projects. But as of now, the itemization of Road User’s Tax allocation in the national budget from funds pooled from car registration payments “remain a lump-sum devoid of details.”
In other words, not a dime went where it was supposed to. But we didn’t need the good senator to point that out. Just take a drive down any government built road and count the hazards. It’s like the X Games out there. From unpainted, unlit concrete blocks randomly scattered across our main roads, to poorly, if at all, lit highways, to the absence of emergency services, to, well, I think you get the point.
The only roads that meet international standards for safety are privately built toll roads. Speaking of which, if we are paying road tax and Motor Vehicle Users Charges (MVUC) why should we also be paying toll? Isn’t that the whole point of paying taxes? Being charged both ways would be like paying for a police force but having to hire private security as well to protect…um, yeah, probably not best to go there right now.
So back to road safety. As it is now, every registered vehicle pays a Motor Vehicle User’s Charge. According to RA 8794, collections should be 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 %).
So in theory, over 1 billion a year is being spent on road safety and P802 million for anti-pollution programs. These are “over and above” the regular appropriations of the agencies. Yet not only do we not see any improvement, we’re seeing a steady deterioration of the air quality and a 10% increase in road accidents per year. So my question is: Where the MVUC is the all money going to?