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Panelo late after 3.5-hour travel

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Friday made true on his promise to take public transportation to work, traveling 3.5 hours to arrive 46 minutes late at the Palace, but insisted he was not being insensitive when he said Filipinos should leave home early to arrive at their destinations on time.

READ: Panelo accepts dare to ride on PUV, take LRT

Panelo late after 3.5-hour travel
COMMUTER CHALLENGE. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, surrounded by smiling cameramen Friday, thumbs a ride to prove to himself there is no transport crisis, scoffed at by the masses who get the rides daily minus cameramen—and took him 210 minutes from Marikina to Malacañang which could have meant just 90 minutes in moderate traffic. Norman Cruz  
The Palace official took four jeepney rides and hitched a ride on a motorcycle to get from his home in Marikina to Malacañang,

He left his home at 5:15 a.m. and arrived in Malacañang at 8:46 a.m., 46 minutes late.

His whole trip, however,  proves there is a mass transport crisis in Metro Manila, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Reyes “congratulated” Panelo for arriving at his office after nearly four hours of taking his “commute challenge.”

He also said he wished to join Panelo in his commute, but observed that “parang ayaw naman niya akong kasabay (he didn’t want me for company).”

Panelo said he was slowed down by members of the media who caught up with him in Cubao and in Gilmore. He would have also taken the LRT, but opted not to do so since he did not want the media to inconvenience passengers, he said.

In a press briefing after his commute, Panelo defended his earlier statement that commuters should wake up early to avoid being late to work.

Users of social media have called him out for the insensitivity of his remarks, while militant groups urged him to take public transportation every day, without bodyguards and his private car.

Panelo said the call for an early start was his way of telling Filipinos to be “creative.”

“We are very creative people. We are in a hostile environment. But we just don’t sit down and wallow in misery. We have to do something about it. And what do we do since we have a horrible traffic situation? We wake up early,” he said.

“That’s not insensitive. That is, in fact, praising the creativity of Filipinos. We can face any situation,” he added.

He also maintained his position that there was no transport crisis crippling Metro Manila despite two major train systems bogging down recently, forcing thousands of commuters to find alternative modes of transport.

READ: Mass transport crisis? 3 railways reset by woes

Panelo did admit to a traffic crisis, however.

READ: What transport crisis? All I see is traffic—Panelo

“There is a traffic crisis, precisely because on the conditions obtaining, like there’s so many volumes of cars which our roads cannot accommodate. Then so many people are violating the traffic [rules]. We don’t have efficient traffic management,” he said.

The Palace official also blamed the Congress for blocking emergency powers that President Rodrigo Duterte had sought to solve the heavy traffic.

Panelo also called out militant groups that kept on making demands about his commute. He said that he only accepted the challenge to show that government officials can take public transport to work.

“I accepted the challenge because they claim that those in government cannot do that. I belied their claims,” he said.

Meanwhile, he assured the public that transport officials are finding solutions to remedy Metro Manila’s traffic problem, which costs P3.5 billion in lost opportunities per day, according to Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“The Transport officials know the problem. They’re doing something about it. We don’t have to tell them what they have to do,” he said.

While aboard a jeepney bound for Sta. Mesa, Panelo took selfies that he released to the media. Later, he sent selfies while riding two other jeepneys.

On his last jeepney ride, he was interviewed by some members of the media along LRT2 in Cubao station.

He later headed to V. Mapa, going down from his third jeepney to look for a tricycle.

Since there was no tricycle available, a certain Ronaldo Rosales offered him a motorcycle ride on his way to Malacañang.

Panelo played down his arrival in Malacañang at past 8:40 a.m., saying Cabinet officials do not have to be in their offices at exactly 8 a.m. since they work 24 hours a day.

READ: LRT lacks failsafe system, exec says

Topics: Salvador Panelo , public transportation , Renato Reyes Jr. , Japan International Cooperation Agency
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