Hundreds of thousands of workers miss deadlines, flights and meetings, students miss classes and parents miss dinners with family because of the already globally notorious traffic conditions in Metro Manila (currently rank 5th worst in the Traffic Index 2015 Mid Year).
To make matters worse, Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya, the man spearheading the charge to alleviate the gross traffic condition in the country, goes on live television and makes light of the daily plight of Filipinos by saying, "Hindi naman siguro fatal iyan."
There was an immediate backlash from everyone including Senator Pia Cayetano who went to Twitter to express her disgust over Abaya’s insensitive comments.
"OMG! Kaya pala ganito kalala ang traffic sa atin, our very own DOTC chief says traffic is not burdensome to the daily lives of the people."
Sir, if it takes an employee 2 hours to get to work and another 2 hours to get home, that's half of the work day IN TRAFFIC. Those are productive hours that could have been spent elsewhere. A study shows that Metro Manila traffic jams cost the Philippine economy US $57 million (P2.4 billion) in potential income EVERY DAY (JICA),” Cayetano exclaimed on Twitter.
On Friday, a full four days after making the inconsiderate remark, Abaya backtracks and release a statement.
"I extend my deepest apologies to the public, for an off-the-cuff statement made earlier in the week, which understandably came across as reckless and insensitive. I am aware that what I said has only added to the frustration and the suffering of the public. I am profoundly sorry for this.
With this apology, I wish to assure the public that we are well aware of the situation we all face every day. Please be assured that we are doing everything in our power and exerting the maximum effort to ease traffic in Metro Manila and the surrounding areas. Some of these solutions will take time.
For instance, my comments were made in relation to the impact of the LRT2 extension project on traffic. While construction will take 2 years, this is precisely the infrastructure needed to ease traffic congestion in the area. Our goal in extending the rail system to Masinag is to provide a more efficient and reliable commuting option to those affected.
We humbly ask for your patience and understanding in these matters," said Abaya via a statement.