Most of Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s Friday morning was spent on jeepneys and a motorcycle, but he continued to insist there is no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila.
Panelo took on the commute challenge sans bodyguards and media coverage after he was dared by several militant groups. He left his home in Marikina at 5:15 a.m. — before the morning rush hour. Groups have called on him to travel during rush hour to experience the plight of commuters.
It took four jeepney rides and a free motorcycle ride from a supposed good samaritan to get to his workplace in Malacañang in Manila City at 8:46 a.m. His one-way commute took 3.5 hours when it usually takes 40 minutes to 1.5 hours.
But the spokesperson said he took a different route and rode the jeep on purpose so he could ply streets were “traffic problem is horrendous.”
When asked about how challenging it was to take public transport, he insisted there is no transport crisis.
“When you say crisis, you refer to crisis to the sufferance of all people using the roads,” he told CNN Philippines.
He said traveling via public transport has worsened, but said there is no need to call it a crisis because commuters can still get rides.
“You know when I said there was no crisis , I was referring to paralysis. There is no paralysis in the transport system because we can still get rides,” he said.
He said traffic is to blame — not the public transportation — for the struggles of Filipinos on the road.
“Every commuter, every motorist suffers the same fate because of the horrendous traffic,” he said.
He also blamed the media, who eventually caught up with him, why his trip took longer than usual. Several passengers with him in the jeep complained of delays due to Panelo’s presence.
According to a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the country loses ₱3.5 billion daily due to traffic congestion. This could inflate to ₱5.4 billion by 2035 if nothing is done to fix traffic problems.