The Palace issued the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo urged public officials to refrain from using sirens so they could understand the situation of ordinary commuters. ?
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Palace, Leni face off on traffic, wang-wang
Helen Flores, Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte shuns the use of sirens or wang-wang except during emergency situations, Malacañang said yesterday.

The Palace issued the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo urged public officials to refrain from using sirens so they could understand the situation of ordinary commuters. ?

In her radio program on Sunday, Robredo said the use of sirens by government officials is an “insult” to motorists and commuters, who are made to feel that their trips are not important. ?

She said banning the use of sirens would enable officials to experience the hardships of commuters, who have to wake up early to reach their destinations on time. ?

Asked to react to Robredo’s suggestion, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said officials only use sirens in times of emergency. ?

“Who among the Cabinet members are using ‘wang- wang?’ It is only used during an emergency. I rarely see it,” Panelo said at a press briefing. ?

“The President is against the use of ‘wang-wang.’ I can understand if you use wang-wang on a particular occasion,” he added.?The use of sirens by government officials was prohibited during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III.

Duterte promised to continue the policy. ?

“Even when he was mayor, I would ride his pickup and he did not even want the driver to overtake. If the driver overtakes, he would scold the driver and tell him, ‘Just let them be, we will reach our destination eventually,’” Panelo said. ?

He said critics should give suggestions on how to fix the traffic problem instead of  finding fault with the administration’s policies.  ?

“To those who are fond of issuing challenges, just give suggestions and good proposals that can help the government,” he said. 

Stuck

Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said the administration’s solution to traffic was also “stuck in traffic.”

Gutierrez issued the statement as he hit back at Panelo for criticizing Robredo for commenting on his “commute challenge.”

He said Robredo has been offering solutions to the government, not just on the traffic problem in Metro Manila, but on other issues as well.

“Vice President Leni is always willing to help,” Gutierrez said as he denounced the administration for failing to come up with a solution to traffic woes after three years in power.

“This government has long promised to immediately solve the traffic problem. It seems that the solution to traffic was also stuck in traffic,” he said.

Panelo urged critics, including Robredo, to send proposals to alleviate the traffic crisis instead of nitpicking on the Duterte administration.

Robredo said the government’s continuous downplay of the traffic problem in Metro Manila means it has no intention of solving it.

“We all know that there’s a (transportation) crisis. And this was proven when Secretary Sal Panelo accepted the challenge. It took him almost four hours to commute from Marikina to Malacañang. But Secretary Panelo is even lucky, he only experienced it once, but our fellow Filipinos they encounter this every day,” Robredo said over dzXL.

Despite the long commute, Panelo insisted there is no transport crisis in Metro Manila.

“What is sad is when a public official was the one saying that there is no crisis. Because when you say that there is no crisis, you won’t do anything because you don’t recognize that there is a problem in the first place,” Robredo said. ?

Commute challenge??Last Friday, Panelo commuted to work, accepting a challenge by militant groups for him to use public transportation so he could feel the hardships of ordinary commuters. ?

Panelo departed from New Manila, which was about 20 minutes away from Malacañang through Light Rail Transit 2.

He said he purposely chose a circuitous route so he could experience the plight of commuters.  ?

From New Manila, he took a jeepney to Cubao and another to Concepcion, Marikina.

From Marikina, he went back to Cubao and commuted until he reached Mendiola in Manila.

A motorcycle driver offered him a ride to the New Executive Building at Malacañang. The entire trip took almost four hours. ?

Panelo rejected another challenge by the group Kongreso ng Mananakay to commute to work for six months. ?

“No more. I won’t do that. I just accepted the challenge to show them that it’s not true that we do not experience the hardships of commuters,” he said in Filipino.

Panelo expressed support for a plan of Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao to file a bill requiring public officials, including Cabinet members, to take public transport at least once a week.?“If the purpose is for the officials to experience the commuters’ hardships, it’s not necessary. But if your purpose every now and then is to share in the sympathy, we don’t have a problem with that,” he said. ?Panelo said Cabinet members are used to riding buses, jeepneys and tricycles.  

 

LENI ROBREDO
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