Panelo's commute challenge takes almost 4 hours after riding 4 jeepneys, motorcycle
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo took almost four hours by taking at least four jeepneys and a motorcycle in going to work in Malacanang on Friday.
The 75-year old Cabinet official made the gesture as part of his "silly acceptance" on the "silly challenge" made to him by various militant groups to commute in going to work after he said there was no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila.
Wearing a white long sleeve polo, black pants, white cap and shades, Panelo started his journey at around 5:15am from New Manila, Quezon City where his daughter lives by taking a jeepney going to Cubao.
He then transferred to another jeepney that brought him to Concepcion, Marikina City where he resides.
According to Panelo, he was able to ride a jeepney in Concepcion after waiting for 20-25 minutes that brought him back to Cubao.
He said he was supposed to ride a train at Gilmore Station of the Light Rail Transit Line 2, but because many members of the media were following him, he decided to ride another jeepney that brought him near Mendiola in Manila.
From where he alighted, he was supposed to ride a tricycle, which was parked nearby. But the tricycle was to be repaired.
A man riding a motorcycle offered to give him a ride, but he did not have extra helmet. Another man riding in a motorcycle with extra helmet and who became curious because of many media men in the area offered also a ride that brought Panelo to Gate 2 of the Malacanang Complex where his office at the New Executive Building is located before 9 am.
On the last leg of his jeepney ride, which was shown by some media organizations through Faceboook live, some members of the militant groups, such as Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakbayan, which challenged him, managed to join Panelo inside the jeepney.
During such ride, it was past 8:00 am, which is the usual start of work by government employees.
KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis told Panelo that he was late, prompting the official to answer, "we don't have (regular) time in our work," adding that the Cabinet officials are working "24 hours" a day.
Adonis said that workers like them, whenever, they are late, receive the corresponding penalty, which could even lead to dismissal from work.
Panelo also reiterated there was no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila.
In a press briefing, later in the day, Panelo said what the public has been experiencing is a "traffic crisis."
"Because when you say transportation crisis, there are no more vehicles to ride on," he explained.
He added that whenever Filipinos face challenges, they are "very creative."
"We have a hostile environment but we just don’t sit down and wallow in misery; we do something about it. And how do we do it? Since the traffic is like that, we wake up earlier than usual," Panelo said.
He stressed that when he previously said that in order to reach the destination, a commuter has to leave earlier from his home was "not an offensive statement."
Asked if the Filipinos could expect any improvement, such as lessening the traffic woes in Metro Manila, before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office in 2022, he said the government is doing what it can to alleviate the situation.
"Whether it come sooner or later, perhaps it depends on the circumstances," he said.
Panelo recalled that shortly after Duterte assumed office, he asked for emergency powers to address the traffic problem.
But since Congress did not grant his request, it would be late if it would be given to him now, Panelo said, quoting the President.
Commuters have been complaining because of longer hours that they have to spend on the streets due to worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.
The traffic situation further worsened when the LRT-2 bogged down after catching fire last week. It is now operating under limited hours with limited trains and servicing certain stations. Celerina Monte/DMS