Presidential Spokesman Panelo coy about Duterte strategy for cutting Cubao – Makati travel time to 5 minutes 

Manila traffic. (Photo: ABS-CBN News)
Manila traffic. (Photo: ABS-CBN News)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo played coy during a meeting with the press today when he was asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to cut travel time between Cubao, Quezon City to Makati City to five minutes, even though it normally takes at least an hour.

When asked how Duterte will make the impossible possible, Panelo said “[It’s a] surprise,” followed by a smirk. Some reporters can be heard laughing in the background, with one even saying “What?”

“[It’s a] surprise,” Panelo repeated himself. “He (Duterte) has something [up] his sleeves.”

The moment is found at around the 13-minute mark of this video:

In an interview on Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s show Give Us This Day on Saturday, Duterte promised that Manila’s traffic situation would improve greatly by December.

“You just wait,” Duterte said. “Things will improve, maybe God willing, by December it will be smooth sailing.”

“You don‟t have to worry about traffic. Cubao and Makati is just about five minutes away,” he said.

After Duterte’s statement was reported by various media over the weekend, critics were quick to point out that his promise was nearly impossible.

Many netizens went ahead and computed how fast a vehicle would have to run to travel between the two places in 5 minutes. Cubao and Makati are between 9.9km. to 12.8km. away from each other, depending on the route. This means that motorists must drive fast and furious — between 118.8kph to 154.6kph — for Duterte’s promise to be fulfilled.

The general speed limit in Philippine highways is 60kph while it is 100kph for expressways. With today’s traffic, vehicles usually only run at about 20kph in the notoriously congested main highway EDSA.

Seemingly commenting on the tough task, Senator Ping Lacson said in a tweet today that Duterte would be a “superhuman” if he delivers on the promise and deserves to be “president for life.”

The president did not elaborate on how he plans to improve the traffic situation but in the same interview on Saturday, he said: “It’s a good thing I went to China. China helped.”

A reporter asked Presidential Spokesman Panelo earlier today if he could elaborate on this remark but he did not. Still laughing and with a grin on his face, Panelo said: “I’ll ask the president later so I can elaborate tomorrow. I’ll ask him, I’ll ask him tonight.”

The same reporter asked if the plan to improve traffic was already underway but Panelo just said he does not know.

Quoting back what Panelo said earlier in the press conference, the reporter asked why he said that Duterte has something up his sleeve if he was not sure what the plan was. To this, the spokesman replied: “Perhaps he does, why would he say that it will be a 5-minute travel?”

But this is not the first outlandish promise from Duterte. Back when he was still running for president, he said that he would end the illegal drug trade in the country within three to six months after he assumes office. He admitted about a year later that he was wrong to place such a deadline. Three years since he became president, his infamous drug war is still ongoing.

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