Train lines cleared, passengers blocked as Duterte spokesperson ‘tests’ commuting experience

Photo from ABS-CBN News.
Photo from ABS-CBN News.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque promised on Tuesday that he would take a ride on the LRT and MRT trains in a bid to “empathize” with those of us who live the life of an average Manila commuter.

You know the life we’re talking about, the one filled with insane traffic jams and MRT trips plagued with numerous glitches and accidents every week.

And so ride it he did yesterday morning, though his experience was decidedly different than yours or ours.

How so? For starters, he may not have been informed that the average Filipino commuter has to travel during something called “rush hour,” meaning he probably should have tried riding the train before 9am. He finally got on the train at about 9:30am, according to local news reports, apparently to “avoid inconveniencing passengers.” Kind of him.

READ: After arm-slicing, train-decoupling incidents, Duterte spokesman says he’ll ride MRT to work to ’empathize’ with commuters

The average Filipino also doesn’t have a security detail keeping people from getting in the train car with you.

Rappler reported that three security guards would get off the train at each stop to bar commuters from riding in the carriage Roque was in. Roque told Rappler that he did not know security was doing this. Riiiight.

And according to a report by the Philippine Star, lines were cleared at the MRT Cubao station, the transfer point of the MRT and LRT lines, specifically for his convenience.

So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that after such a wildly distorted, not-at-all normal MRT experience, he’d label our train system “not that bad.”

“In my experience, because we did not experience any problems, it really isn’t bad,” he said. “The line is just kind of long and it wasn’t rush hour, so I could imagine that during rush hour, the lines are even longer.”

Commuters who know what the non-VIP commuting day is really like were not amused, and were quick to tell Roque exactly what they thought of his commuting attempt on Twitter.

Roque, a former member of Congress became Duterte’s spokesperson in late October. Last week, it was announced that he will be part of the Senatorial lineup for Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban for the 2019 midterm elections.

However, Roque said that he cannot afford to run for senator and would rather focus on his job as a spokesperson.

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