Abolish road board

THE peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended this week without a peace agreement being signed. President Aquino must be disappointed with the government peace panel. He had wanted a peace deal to be signed this month. And the MILF is not even optimistic that a peace pact will be signed in April.

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The government and the MILF have granted the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) an observer seat in the next round of peace talks. This means that OIC gets to sit in the succeeding peace talks. Its involvement will definitely give the peace negotiations its much-needed shot in the arm. Even as an observer, the presence of an OIC representative will speed up the slow peace negotiations hopefully in the same manner it had asserted its role in the historic forging of the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996.

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President Aquino has a new adviser on Muslim concerns in the person of Yasmin Busran-Lao. Lao was the only female Muslim senatorial candidate who run but lost in the 2010 elections under the Liberal Party. She also serves as a consultant of the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF. Her appointment, however, sidelines National Commission on Muslim Affairs Secretary Bai Omera-Lucman who is supposed to be giving the President advices on matters pertaining Muslims.

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Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel has questioned Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for the unnecessary repair of “good roads” – or roads in good condition – while there are other roads which were damaged by recent typhoons but have yet to be rehabilitated. He wants Singson, who sits as chairman of the Road Board, to account how the multi-billion revenues from the road user’s tax have been spent for road improvement and maintenance.

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Congress should exercise its oversight function to examine how the Road Board is managing the revenues from the road user’s tax. We heard many stories how the special funds from the road user’s tax have been used to bribe unscrupulous government officials. Pimentel and his colleagues should weed out corrupt members of the Road Board. Or better yet, Congress should abolish it.

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In next year’s national elections, the people will vote not only 12 but 13 senators. This is so to fill in the seat to be vacated by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago once she assumed her post as judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

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Erratum: This column should have been entitled “Abolish road board” and not “Luwag sa mga tiwali” as published last Saturday and Sunday (March 24 and 25, 2012).

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