Filipinos hit presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo anew for saying that they should be “creative” in their commute so that they could avoid getting stuck in traffic.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s mouthpiece rode four jeepneys and a motorcycle from Marikina to the presidential palace in Manila as a response to progressive groups challenging him to take public transportation.
Panelo reportedly left his residential area at around 5:15 a.m. and arrived at Malacañan compound at around 8:46 a.m, making him late for 46 minutes following the standard operating time of government offices.
He said that he specifically took a different route from his usual one since he wanted to see areas reported to have heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
“I took a different route. I purposely did some jeepney rides especially where traffic problem is horrendous,” Panelo said in an interview with CNN Philippines as quoted by a local news outlet.
While he initially declined to be covered by the press, the presidential spokesperson was eventually interviewed during his commute.
In one of the ambush interviews, Panelo said that Filipinos only needed to be “creative” if they wanted to beat the metro’s perennial crisis on traffic.
“Ang punto ko lang dun, we are very creative people. When we’re confronted with a situation na hostile, we adjust. ‘Yan ang pagka-malikhain ng Pilipino,” he said in a phone patch interview while on his third jeepney ride to the Malacañang.
Panelo at his press conference later in the day acknowledged that being creative is not the sole answer in solving the perennial urban issue that Filipinos face everyday.
“It cannot be permanent. It cannot be constant, we have to change that,” he said.
‘Still doesn’t know the struggle’
While Panelo clarified that he didn’t mean his “creative” remarks to be the solution, the online community didn’t take it lightly and said that he should specifically acknowledge the plight of the commuting public.
“This whole Panelo thing is a big joke. If you did all that only to come up with ‘be a creative commuter’ as your takeaway, then you’re only further disregarding the masses’ complaints,” a Twitter user said.
Another Filipino said that “not everyone has the resources to be creative” on their daily commutes.
“But the government has the power AND all the country’s resources to do something about it,” she added.
Another Twitter user pointed out that Panelo has no “right” to say that Filipinos should be “creative” in their commutes, pointing out that he “cheated” on his way to work.
She noted that the spokesperson was offered a free motorcycle ride and was late in his duty as a government official.
“He still doesn’t know the struggle,” the user said.
Panelo suggested that the following must be done to ease traffic congestion in the metro: More infrastructure projects by the government through the “Build, Build, Build” program, new routes, increase Skyways, add more single-lane bridges and retire old cars.
He also claimed that transport officials are doing the best they can to resolve the hellish gridlock.
The spokesperson previously earned the ire of commuters for telling them to “leave early” from their houses to avoid being stuck in traffic.
Metro Manila workers and students have been leaving as early as four hours before their respective schedules yet continue to experience traffic jams that take a toll on their health.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority previously bared that the daily volume of vehicles plying EDSA has already exceeded last year’s day-to-day average volume on Christmas season as of August 2019.