Panelo didn’t experience real commuter struggle, netizens say

Bonz Magsambol
Panelo didn’t experience real commuter struggle, netizens say
(UPDATED) Panelo receives special treatment from policemen and traffic enforcers during his nearly-4-hour commute from Marikina to Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – “It’s nothing but a stunt.”

This is how Filipinos online described Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s commute to his home in Marikina City to Malacañang on Friday morning, October 11. (READ: No transport crisis? Panelo gets to work late after nearly 4-hour commute)

Panelo did not commute from his home in Marikina City, but rather from New Manila. He had slept at his child’s home the night before. From the main road between Gilmore and Balete Drive, he commuted to Cubao, then to Concepcion in Marikina, then back to Cubao, before heading to Sta Mesa.

After nearly 4 hours of commute and 4 vehicle transfers, Panelo arrived in Malacañang at 8:46 am – nearly an hour past the opening of government offices. He said he left his home – some 20 kilometers away from the Palace – at 5:15 am.

But netizens didn’t think he experienced what regular commuters really endure every day just to get to their destination. They pointed out that Panelo received special treatment from policemen and traffic enforcers. (READ: Challenge accepted: Panelo to commute to Malacañang on October 11)

Special treatment?

Manuel M. Medina said, the fact the he was assisted by policemen in getting jeepney rides defeated the purpose of the challenge. 

If the objective of this exercise is to have the same experience as a regular commuter, then he already failed,” wrote Shevasherapy Rosero Carbonell.

Anakbayan national spokesperson Alex Danday, Panelo’s commute became a mere photo opportunity for him. 

‘Yung hamon na inihain natin kay Panelo, ito ay para maipakita natin na ganito ang nararanansan nating mga mamamayan at gusto natin na ang gobyerno na solusyunan niya ang ganitong krisis na nararanansan ng mamamayan. Pero kung ganito lang ang gagawin nila, makikita natin na wala talaga silang ginawa ngayong araw. Nag photo ops lang itong si Panelo,” said Danday. 

(The purpose of the challenge was to show Panelo the struggles of the commuters and for the government to act on this crisis.  We can see that they’re not doing anything now. Panelo just did this for a photo opportunity.)

Nonoy Manalo GalletoVillaflor Lopez said what Panelo did was a “cheap” and “ scripted publicity stunt.” Lopez said Panelo should commute again going home without the help of police officers and traffic enforcers, and do the commute challenge again on Monday when traffic in Metro Manila is at its worst.

Maria Renker also pointed out that Panelo’s commute just proved that there is a transportation crisis.

“4 hours of going to work and another 4 hours going back home is pathetic. That’s 8 hours of your life!” Renker wrote. 

A college student who wakes up at 3 am to get to her school in Manila had earlier said that Panelo did not understand how commuting works if he thought that leaving early would guarantee arriving early at one’s destination. (WATCH: Fed up with traffic, I walked from Cubao to BGC for work)

Panelo earlier refuted the observation of leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan that there was a mass transport crisis, earning the ire of lawmakers and ordinary commuters. (READ: FAST FACTS: State of Metro Manila’s public transport system)

“If you want to go, arrive early [at] your destination, then you go there earlier,” Panelo said.

‘Do it everyday!’

Some netizens urged Panelo to do it every day so he could experience the daily struggles of a regular commuter. (READ: Do it every day! Netizens react to Panelo’s planned commute)

Panelo trends

As he took on the challenge of commuting today, Panelo became the top trending topic on Twitter Philippines as of 11:51 am. 

Here’s what other netizens had to say about Panelo’s commute:

This commute challange came on the heels of Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT2) stations getting shut down and the ongoing repair of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) that have left commuters in hours-long traffic.

The LRT2 will be on limited operations for 9 months, following the damage sustained by two rectifier substations from a fire on October 3.

This was not the first time that a Duterte spokesman took a public transport as a media relations stunt. In November 2017, then-spokesman Harry Roque took the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) amid breakdowns of the train line. Malacañang back then had promised a “better MRT3” under Duterte.

Duterte admits failure in addressing the EDSA traffic problem, but has presented no plans on how to move forward.

Commuters and traffic advocates are calling for accountability. They are asking the government to provide accessible and hassle-free transportation options to Filipinos because they deserve better. (READ: [OPINION] Stop band-aid solutions, provide public transportation instead)

What do you think of Panelo’s commute to work today? Do you think he proved his point that there is no transportation crisis? –



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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.