Abolition of Kennon, Halsema toll fees proposed

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BONTOC, Mountain Province  – The House of Representatives approved on first reading a proposed bill seeking for the termination of the collection of toll fees along the portion of the Benguet road, popularly known as Kennon road, from Klondykes Spring to Camp 6, repealing for the purpose Executive Order No. 34, series of 1954 as amended.

House Bill (HB) 2952 authored by Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. and Benguet Rep. Nestor Fongwan, Sr. stated that the Baguio-Bontoc-Halsema Highway-Kennon National Toll road is a national toll road that comprises 3 tollgates which are situated in Camp 1, Camp 6 along Kennon Road and Acop, Tublay, Benguet along the Halsema highway.

The two neophyte lawmakers stipulated in their proposed bill the collection of toll fees at Camp 6 was implemented by virtue of EO No. 34, as amended, issued by former President Ramon Magsaysay on June 1, 1954.

With the passage of Republic Act (RA) No. 8794 on June 27, 2000 which imposed the so-called motor vehicle users charge to all motor vehicle owners, the proponents explained the motor vehicle users charges are collected and deposited on special trust accounts in the national treasury and that the trust accounts include the Special Road Support Fund and the Special Local Road Fund which are used by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the maintenance and improvement of primary and secondary roads nationwide.

With the toll fees collected by virtue of EO 34 and motor vehicle users charge by virtue of RA 8794, which are both transmitted to the national treasury, Fongwan and Dalog argued that the road users of Camp 6 toll road are technically being charged twice or even more when passing through the different toll roads in Baguio and Benguet.

According to the proponents, the motor vehicle owners are mostly farmers from Benguet and Mountain Province transporting their agricultural produce to the La Trinidad vegetable trading post or directly to Metro Manila via the said toll roads.

Further, with the collection of toll fees, the two congressmen argued farmers are left with no recourse but to increase farm prices of vegetables and pass on the expense to retailers and consumers.

Dalog and Fongwan pressed for the immediate passage of the proposed bill to help lessen the burden being imposed by the government on the collection of toll fees and motor vehicle users charge considering that it is the ordinary Filipino people who will suffer from the unnecessary charges that will be passed on to them by the farmers being unnecessarily charged of the same by the government.

The proposed bill was referred by the House of Representatives to the appropriate committee for study and recommendation on whether it will be passed by the lower House.

Once the bill will be approved in the House, the same will be transmitted to the Senate for the passage of its counterpart measure before it will be forwarded to the Office of the President for his signature so that it will become a law.

The proposed law will take effect 15 days after its publication in the national gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. By HENT

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