By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — There is no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila because there is no “mass transit paralysis” and that glitches in the country’s train systems are “solvable”, Malacañang said on Wednesday
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stood by his remark that there is no mass transport crisis after critics said he was insensitive to the daily plight of commuters.
He denied being unaware of the gravity of the problem, saying that he simply meant that despite glitches in the country’s train systems and the Sept. 30 nationwide transport strike, commuters were still able to reach their respective destinations.
“Just because I disagree with the leftist organization’s theory on the existence of a mass transport crisis does not mean that I am unaware of the vexing daily commute, as well as the burden caused by the worsening traffic conditions in Manila,” Panelo said in a statement.
“I stand by my statement: there is no mass transport crisis. 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,” he added.
He also emphasized that “perennial problems” in traffic and the country’s train stations are the products of many years of neglect by previous administrations.
“The present traffic woes and inadequate mass transit system have been the bane of our people, more specifically those living and working in Metro Manila. These perennial problems are a carry-over of two previous administrations, and inherited by the present one,” he added.
For Panelo, the current transport problems are “solvable” because the LRT and MRT management are already “doing something” about them.
“That is why we are rehabilitating the MRT-3, building the Metro Manila Subway, MRT-7, Common Station, LRT-1 Cavite Extension and PNR (Philippine National Railway) Clark, among others,” Panelo said.
Panelo pointed out that he even called the attention of the management and that they should “do more” in providing efficient service to the public.
Moreover, he said the Duterte administration has also requested for emergency powers from Congress since the start of his term, which has yet to be granted.
The Senate, in particular, has been hesitant to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte over corruption concerns, insisting that there are already laws and policies to speed up government’s transport projects.
“This administration wanted to address the same immediately but Congress opted not to grant the President the emergency powers he asked from it at the inception of his presidency to solve it,” Panelo said.
The Palace official also slammed critics for neglecting the administration’s current efforts to fix the transport problems.
Panelo acknowledged the daily suffering of the commuters as “a given” but assured that the Duterte administration will not allow this to be constant and permanent.
“Everyone who commutes or drives suffers every day but solutions to solve it are not insuperable, and this administration is doing its best to provide not just immediate but also long-term solutions,” Panelo said. (PNA)