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MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Thursday, August 20, issued a public apology over his admittedly “insensitive” remark on the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.
“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,” Abaya said in a statement.
In an interview on ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol on Monday, Abaya commented that traffic “is not fatal,” a remark that infuriated motorists who endure Metro Manila traffic every day.
He explained that his comments were made in relation to the impact of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT2) extension project on traffic, which will take two years to complete.
“While construction will take two 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,” Abaya said.
He sought to temper public anger, saying the government is “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,” Abaya said.
He again appealed for the public’s patience and understanding.
Binay spokesperson Rico Quicho said Abaya’s off-the-cuff remark reflected the “insensitivity” of the Aquino administration.
“Such an insensitive statement can only come from an administration that is manhid at palpak (insensitive and incompetent). We lose at least 20,000 work hours per day. The economy loses billions to traffic. The air and noise pollution cause illnesses to commuters and motorists. Yet the DOTC chief is actually telling us: buhay pa naman kayo di ba (you’re still alive, right)?” Quicho said.
The lawyer cited the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s warning to the government last year that traffic will worsen in 2015. He said JICA’s estimate is that daily traffic costs in the country would shoot up from P2.4 billion in 2014 to P6 billion by 2030. – Rappler.com