PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will put his pronouncement — and possibly his patience — to the test when he takes public transportation to Malacañang today.
Panelo promised this after he played down daily commuting woes.
In a statement Wednesday, he said he would take the jeepney and the Light Rail Transit to go to work later this week.
“The challenge to commute is accepted. This coming Friday I’ll take the jeepney and the LRT in going to work,” he told reporters.
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade on the other hand rejected the challenged as “media oriented” adding he rides public transportation but without fanfare.
He also insisted there is no transport crisis, only “transport problems.”
Anakbayan and Kilusang Mayo Uno challenged Panelo to join them in commuting to work on Friday morning, a dare Panelo initially rejected.
“That’s a silly challenge,” Panelo told reporters in Bacolod, adding that the country has long been suffering from transportation woes.
In a separate interview Wednesday night, Panelo said he is willing to join activist Renato Reyes Jr. and commute to work every day.
“Ang hindi ninyo alam, ako’y marunong mag-commute. Nagco-commute talaga ako. ‘Yun nga, ‘yung sabi sa ‘kin na mag-commute, this has been the challenge. But I will accept, sabihin mo kay Renato Reyes, gusto mo araw-araw kami mag-commute, magkasama kaming dalawa, saan man kami magpunta,” he said.
It was Reyes who said a “mass transport crisis” is plaguing commuters in Metro Manila.
Panelo drew flak Tuesday after he shrugged off Reyes’ statement which came amid partial suspension of the LRT-2 operations following a fire, problems at the LRT-1 and MRT-3, unprecedented traffic at the northbound side of the South Luzon Expressway due to the Skyway extension project, and daily gridlocks in the metro’s crammed roads.
He later on admitted that a “crisis in effective management” is plaguing Metro Manila’s LRT system, which ferries hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.
The LRT-2 suspended operations from October 3 to 7 after a fire hit one its power transformers, forcing some 220,000 passengers to find alternative modes of transport. The line is currently running partial operations.
Meanwhile, the LRT-1 halted trips in 2 stations Thursday due to “mechanical issues”, the same day that an MRT-3 train stalled between 2 stations.
Panelo found an ally in Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on the issue of worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.
Locsin, in a tweet yesterday even said he is “honored” to accompany Panelo who accepted the challenge to commute from his home to Malacanang.
“He was just saying there is no transport crisis, there are enough rides: in fact too many but there are too many who need rides but that’s not transport problem,” Locsin tweeted.
The Secretary added “no problem for him (Panelo). I’d be honored to accompany the only guy who defends the President.”
Panelo had insisted that there is no mass transport crisis because the problems were “solvable” and that commuters are still able to reach their destinations, which drew negative reactions from the public.
With Cristina Lee-Pisco