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Panelo hit for ‘insensitive’ remark

MANILA, Philippines — As government officials insisted that there was no “mass transport crisis” in Metro Manila, a commuter group observed on Wednesday that there seemed to be a crisis in governance.

“It’s a shame that the spokesperson of the President who won on an election campaign anchored on ‘Tapang at Malasakit’ could be so insensitive to the daily sufferings of the commuters,” said Toix Cerna, spokesperson for commuters’ advocacy group Komyut.

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“The worst part is that this is seconded by the transport secretary himself, who I expected to know better after asking for emergency powers from Congress,” she added.

Cerna was reacting to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s recent comment denying the existence of a mass transport crisis gripping Manila, after its three major transit lines — the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 — suffered a series of escalating glitches last week, climaxing in the total shutdown of LRT 2 for five days.

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It resumed operations on Tuesday, although only 8 of its 11 stations were open.

Together, the three train systems ferry around a million Filipinos every day through the traffic-clogged metropolis, now choking under more cars and the simultaneous implementation of infrastructure projects.

Years of neglect

Panelo said there was no crisis since people were still able to get to their destinations. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, on the other hand, said there were only “transportation issues and problems” caused by years of neglect under previous administrations.

But Cerna expressed dismay over the officials’ remarks, saying: “You kind of wonder what to them would count as a ‘crisis.’ Nasaang lupalop ba sila? (Don’t they live here)? I’m afraid that with this type of thinking and perspective, we’re really in a governance crisis.”

She said that it was better to acknowledge that the daily ordeal of Filipino commuters constituted a crisis “because this would indicate that government ought to have all hands on deck — not just doing lip service and ‘swordfighting’ with Congress.”

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TAGS: LRT 1, LRT 2, LRT 3, Metro Manila traffic, Salvador Panelo
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