ROXAS CITY- Whenever the traffic situation in the metropolis becomes chaotic, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II prefers riding the jampacked Metro Rail Transit train, even if it means mixing with the hoi polloi.
“Sometimes, I take the MRT. It’s a normal thing for me especially when there’s traffic,” Roxas told reporters in Capiz during the implementation of Reconstruction Assistance for (super typhoon) Yolanda (RAY).
This was his response to the group Train Riders’ Network (TREN) challenging President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet secretaries to commute daily for them to have a taste of every commuter’s suffering.
According to the former Transportation and Communications chief, the daily predicament of train commuters is no stranger to him because he himself had gone through it.
”For example, if I’m going to Makati from DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) office, I take the train from Quezon (Boulevard) station,” he said.
The DILG office sits at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Edsa in Diliman, Quezon City.
A source close to the secretary told INQUIRER.net that whenever Roxas travels by train, only two or even one security aide would accompany him so as not to draw attention.
“Unlike the members of the Cabinet who are known for their inefficiency and are not penalized for being late for work, ordinary students and employees suffer due to the incompetence of the MRT Administration and the DOTC,” the source said.
“Students earn undeserving absences in some of their classes, while employees are hit with salary deductions or even threats of being laid-off,” it added.
From his end, Roxas said it’s unnecessary for the President to take the challenge and ride the train.
“The President knows well the problem of the MRT–its high volume of commuters,” he said.
Roxas noted that Aquino knows that every day, the ridership of MRT exceeds by 100,000 more from its 300,000 capacity.
“But then it’s not as easy as walking inside a grocery store to buy a train (just like that),” he said, noting that trains are purchased on a made-to-order basis.