For the past several days, commuters (as well as motorists) living east of the Metro have had to endure horrendous traffic conditions due to a recent fire that caused a temporary shutdown of the LRT-2. Because of that, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) had to suspend operations last October 3 until October 7. It was only last October 8 that they were able to resume operations, albeit partially from Cubao to Recto only as the first three stations (Santolan, Katipunan, Anonas) had their electric systems damaged.

Not only that, both the MRT-3 and the LRT-1 have been hounded by problems as well which have resulted in the riding public having to find different means of getting to and from their destinations. With the recent troubles affecting commuters and motorists alike, militant group 'Bayan' said that Metro Manila is experiencing a mass transport crisis as all three rail systems have experienced problems.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was quick to say that there is no mass transport crisis yet. The reason? Commuters are still able to get to their destinations. This earned the ire of netizens on social media. Some commented that this is blatant disregard to the plight of those who go to work everyday. Others say that Panelo is out of touch since he does not experience the hassle of commuting and switching from one type of public transport to another.

Malacanang Transport draft image

In response, Panelo stated that just because he disagreed with Bayan's statement, does not mean he is unaware of the vexing daily commute, as well as the worsening traffic conditions in Metro Manila. He then went on to say that the problems the Duterte Administration is facing right now are caused by two previous administrations that have failed to properly maintain such public transport systems.

“The present problems in our mass transit system (LRT and MRT) are the products of many years of neglect by the previous administrations. This Administration however considers these problems as solvable, and the LRT and MRT management are already doing something about it. That is why we are rehabilitating the MRT-3, building the Metro Manila Subway, MRT-7, Common Station, LRT-1 Cavite Extension and PNR Clark, among others.

Panelo also mentioned that the Administration wanted to solve the problem swiftly by means of 'emergency powers'. However, Congress has not opted to give them the necessary means of solving the traffic woes in Metro Manila.

Malacanang Transport draft image

Panelo stands by his statement that there is no mass transis crisis simply because there is no mass transit paralysis. “The crisis is in the sufferance of commuters and motorists; while the other crisis is in the inefficient operation and maintenance of the LRTs - the crisis is in its poor management. This is the reason why I called the attention of the management of these existing railway operators, a narrative which was left unstated in various reports to the public,” added Panelo.

With the Presidential Spokesperson adamant in his statement, another militant group 'Anakbayan' challenged Panelo to commute to work. Panelo accepted, stating that he will be taking a jeepney, and the LRT in going to work. Since Panelo lives in Marikina, he can take the LRT-2 going to Malacanan Palace. But with the train system only running from Cubao to Recto, he still needs to commute by some other means in order to get to Cubao station.