MANILA—Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo should consider his nearly 4-hour commute to Malacañang proof of how distressing the public-transport system is in Metro Manila, activists said on Friday.
After a group described the transit conditions in the city as a “crisis,” Panelo played that down, then accepted a collective dare online to use public transportation.
He took 4 jeepney rides starting as early as 5:15 a.m., and reached the Palace past 8:30 a.m. after hitching on a motorcycle.
“Today we have proven how detached the Duterte regime is to the people’s everyday realities and that there is, indeed, a transport crisis — contrary to the Palace’s claim that there is none,” Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday said in a statement.
“What Panelo experienced today is only a taste of what commuters face daily. For the common people, being late may mean salary deduction and a ground for termination.”
Panelo, however, said in a statement that his commute proved “there is no mass transportation crisis in Metro Manila as the political opponents of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte portrayed the situation to be.”
“Mayroong traffic crisis pero hindi transportation crisis kasi when you say transportation crisis wala ka ng sinasakyan, paralyzed ang buong traffic,” he told reporters.
He initially tried to evade reporters who sought to document his commuting challenge, and instead sent photos of his jeepney rides. He entertained phone interviews from reporters during his commute.
According to a Japan International Cooperation Agency study, the Philippines loses P3.5 billion daily due to traffic jams.
—With a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News