Commute challenge draws mixed reactions
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday saw the opportunity to get back at past officials and the President’s critics while Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra saw no point in the proposal to let government officials experience the daily traffic ordeal of ordinary commuters.
Locsin said he was game with the so-called commute challenge so long as past officials responsible for the traffic problem as well as critics would also be required to commute and promise never to criticize the government again.
“Great idea provided ALL CONGRESSMEN, ex-GMA & PNoy officials responsible for traffic, leftists, critics of Duterte are made to join subject to arrest if they use cars,” he tweeted on Sunday.
These people should also “sign certificates of self-abjuration that they will [n]ever criticize this or any subsequent admin[istration],” he added.
But Guevarra said making government officials commute would only add to the traffic problem without solving anything.
“I’m used to the hardship of daily commute to and from Bulacan. I had no first-owned car till I became a lawyer and had no driver till I got to Malacañang. I know how hard it is out there,” he said, recalling that four years ago his travel from the North Luzon Expressway to Ortigas Center used to take him only about two hours.
“I just want to say that you need not be on the moon to know that there is a moon. Such a challenge will only add to the commute problem. No value added,” Guevarra said.
Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao, for his part, believes requiring high-ranking government officials to commute to work will help alleviate the traffic problem in urban areas.
The Mindanao lawmaker on Saturday said he drew inspiration from the “effort and good example” shown by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, when he supposedly “endured” almost four hours of travel to work on Friday.
“His gesture can help show to the public that government knows the situation on the ground and that Malacañang is not an isolated seat of government,” he said.
According to Siao, government vehicles can be used to fetch and bring home ranking public officials, whose service vehicles would be “grounded” at their respective motor pools every Monday.
He said the proposal may cover Cabinet secretaries, division chiefs of government offices, as well as elected public officials.
“That would already be thousands of government vehicles off the streets, enough to significantly decongest traffic,” the Iligan lawmaker said.
The affected civil servants, he said, would have to commute and may use any of the available public transport options: tricycles, jeepneys, buses, FX or UV Express, Light Rail Transit, Philippine National Railway trains and transport network vehicles service units.
“They can even ride their bicycles to work; it’s on Mondays only anyway,” he said.
The Iligan congressman credited then 17th Congress Rep. Harlin Neil Abayon for the idea, but modified it by limiting it only to one day of the week.
He said he would file a House bill on his proposal to require public officials to commute to work.
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