Panelo defends 'wake up early' remark after commute challenge

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2019 09:56 AM | Updated as of Oct 14 2019 11:45 AM

A rider gives Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo a free motorcycle ride along J.P. Laurel going to Malacañang Palace on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Telling Filipino commuters to wake up early to arrive at their destinations on time was meant as praise for travelers' "creativity," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo reiterated Monday after drawing flak for the remark.

Panelo, who went jeepney-hopping and hitchhiking last Friday, defended his statement as a non-offensive one and stood by his position that there is no transport crisis plaguing the metro.

"We people, as a people, as a nation, are a very creative people. When we are confronted with a hostile situation, gumagawa tayo ng paraan (we find a way)," he said in an ANC interview. 

"It was not an offensive statement, it was, in fact, praising the creativity of Filipinos," he added.

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Panelo mentioned the need for commuters to wake up early to avoid being late when he denied the existence of a transport crisis, explaining that what travelers are experiencing is a traffic problem.

"Nakakarating pa naman ang mga dapat makarating sa kanilang dapat papuntahan. May solusyon naman dun, if you want to arrive early (at) your destination, then you go there earlier," he said last Wednesday.

(People still reach their destinations. There's a solution, if you want to arrive early at your destination, then you go there earlier.)

The Duterte spokesman went on a nearly 4-hour commute challenge last Friday, a “silly acceptance” of left-leaning groups' challenge for him to take public transportation.

Asked on the experience, Panelo said taking public transportation for him is no longer new since he used to commute during his college days.

"Nothing has changed kasi (because) I grew into riding buses, jeepneys and tricycles," he said.

"Ordinaryo, kaya nga sabi ko nagkamali kayo ng hinamon, ordinaryo sa akin 'yan," he added.

(It's ordinary for me that's why I said they challenged the wrong person.)