PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who has insisted that there is no mass transportation crisis in the country as claimed by a militant group, has accepted the challenge for him to ride a public utility jeepney and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to work at the Malacañan Palace in Manila.

“The challenge to commute is accepted. This coming Friday (October 11), I’ll take the jeepney and the LRT in going to work,” he said in a text message.

He made the announcement after he initially dubbed as “silly” the dare to commute through the public transportation system so he could get to experience the daily plight of commuters.

In a press conference Thursday, October 10, Panelo declined to say where and what time he would take the jeepney or the LRT.

He admitted that he does not know how much the jeepney and LRT fares are.

But he said he has been taking public transportation. The last time he did so was two months ago.

"Whether you are a motorist or commuter, you suffer the same. Wala namang pagbabago. All of us are suffering," he said.

Panelo says he will not allow the media to cover him tomorrow.

"As far as I know, wala [na mag-cover bukas]. Maraming may gusto pero tinanggihan ko na. I'll just do it my own," he stresses.

On Tuesday, October 8, Anakbayan challenged Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority spokesperson Celine Pialago to take public transportation during rush hour daily for a week “to experience the hellish reality of our everyday commute.”

The call was made after the Palace official disputed the claim of Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. that there is a mass transportation crisis in Metro Manila after technical glitches hampered the operations of three railway systems.

Prior to his acceptance of the challenge, the Palace official said the challenge was “silly” because “the road in going to work and returning home or going elsewhere in Metro Manila is a given.”

“Whether you commute or drive, one is subjected to the same vexing inconvenience and delay, as well as the loss of precious systems,” he said.

Panelo on Tuesday said there was no transport crisis simply because the riding public are still able to go to their destination on time.

Even after drawing flak, Panelo insisted Wednesday that Metro Manila does not suffer from “mass transit paralysis.”

He, however, acknowledged the “crisis” in the “sufferance of commuters and motorists” and the “inefficient operation and maintenance of the LRTs.”

But the Palace official nevertheless assured that the issues hounding the country’s transit systems are “solvable.”

“The daily suffering of the commuters is a given. That is not to say however that we will just continue with our sufferance. We will not allow it to be constant and permanent,” Panelo said.

“Everyone who commutes or drives suffers everyday but solutions to solge it are not insuperable, and this Administration is doing best to provide not just immediate but also long-term solutions,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)