Why politicians need to take 'MRT Challenge'

by Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 30 2014 02:21 AM | Updated as of Aug 31 2014 04:38 AM

MANILA -- Politicians should ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to understand how ordinary Filipino commuters feel, a former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner said.

In an interview on radio DZMM on Friday, former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal explained why it is important for politicians and leaders to take the MRT Challenge.

"You take it once a week, for four weeks, para you'll experience it," Larrazabal said.

Larrazabal said there's more to the challenge than just the experience.

"The idea is not to make you ride it, but to make you understand how the daily ordinary commuters feel, na nakasiksik sila dun, hindi sila makagalaw, but wala silang choice kasi walang ibang viable transportation system in Manila," he added.

Larrazabal, despite not being part of the government anymore, took on the challenge to encourage government officials to do the same.

He narrated that he took the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 from Katipunan to Legarda in the morning, and was lucky enough to arrive at the station just before people start rushing in.

He also took the MRT in the afternoon, even taking a jeepney from Intramuros to Taft.

He added that he was lucky that he did not have to line up in Taft Station.

Larrazabal also documented his trip by posting pictures on his social media accounts.

When asked who he is challenging to take the MRT, Larrazabal said the challenge is for everyone, especially those who do not take the MRT on a regular basis.

"The challenge is not to force them to do something, but to make them do something to understand how it feels to be an ordinary Filipino commuter," Larrazabal said.

He also believes that good leaders need to have the same experience as ordinary people to help them in providing solutions to problems.

"Good leaders have their ear on the ground. Alam nila anong pakiramdam or anong feeling ng bawat mamamayan, and they base their actions on how these ordinary commuters feel. They have to know the experience of the ordinary commuter to know the problem, to help solve the problem," Larrazabal added.

"Kung hindi mo alam ang problema, paano mo maso-solve?"

Larrazabal advised government leaders to be open-minded and to focus on improving existing projects before embarking on new ones.

"You have to be open-minded. Not anyone can solve all problems, but everyone can work together to solve a problem."

He added that leaders should keep up to their promises so that people would have something to look forward to.

"Dapat kapag may sinabi na gagawin namin ito next week, next week, dapat ginagawa niyo. Hindi 'yung next week, ah gagawin namin, next month. Hindi 'yung postpone ng postpone ng postpone, kasi, 'yung mga tao, they also feel, disappointed. Kasi pinromise mo na, tapos maganda 'yung press release, tapos walang nangyari. The people will be disappointed. You know, they won't be happy," Larrazabal explained.

As to whether President Benigno Aquino III should take the MRT challenge, Larrazabal said he should let those who work for him take the challenge.

"The president should not ride the MRT just to know what the problem is, because he has people running it for him. You cannot expect the president to solve all the problems, to know all the problems, but there has to be people giving him feedback."