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New Bill Proposes ALL Government Officials to Ride Buses, Commuter Trains and Jeeps ‘Habitually’

It might go against their “very safe comfort zones”, so let’s see if government officials will easily give in and make it a law.

The bill, which was submitted under the proposal of Aangat Tayo Party List Representative Neil Abayon III, requires all local and national government officials and employees to habitually ride tricycles, jeepneys, taxis, buses, commuter trains, and transport network vehicle services.

Rush hour at the MRT

They will be mandated to do this “at least once every calendar month during weekday rush hours using each of the various modes” of public transportation.

The bill, which was filed last Tuesday, also requires them to fly economy “regardless of rank.”

Congressman Abayon explains: “Public service improves when it is rendered with empathy and compassion. Public service requires living modestly and does not mean entitlement to perks such as business-class and first-class accommodations with airlines.”

Cheap Transportation Regardless of Rank

Those affected by the bill will include Congressmen, Senators, Division Chiefs — even all the way up to the Department Secretaries.

For security reasons, the President, Vice President, Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court will be exempted from the bill.

Still, they can choose not to follow this exception for as long as they are accompanied by a security team chosen and approved by the Presidential Security Group and the Philippine National Police.

Ride and Fly Like the Masses Do

Abayon hopes that this will allow the legislators to place themselves in commuters’ shoes, and use it to create better laws.

“The personal, firsthand experience of riding public transportation will enable legislators to gain real world perspectives and inputs in aid of legislation,” the Congressman said in his bill’s explanatory note.

He also added  that public service “requires empathy and concerns for the people being served.”

Just a Gimmick?

Meanwhile, transportation groups and commuters remain skeptical about the proposed bill.

George San Mateo, president of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide says: “It’s just a publicity gimmick. What we need is for the government to come up with more good transport programs, such as having a publicly owned, efficient modern mass transport system.”

Follow the Leader(s)

Despite the skepticism, there are a handful of Senators and Department Heads who have already been using public transportation in the past.

In fact, Senator Grace Poe, former Secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Mar Roxas, Senator Manny Pacquiao and Vice President Leni Robredo were seen commuting in buses and MRT trains at one time or another.

Senator Grace Poe rides the MRT
Former Department Secretary Mar Roxas rides the MRT
Senator Manny Pacquiao rides the MRT

Still, they don’t do it regularly, except for Leni Robredo.

The Vice President, even when taking office as the second most powerful person in command of the country, always took the bus weekly when she and her family went home in Camarines Sur, Naga City. She also took her security personnel along the ride.

“Mas safe po talaga sumakay ng bus. Yung sinasakyan po namin na bus, kapag lampas na ng 100 kph (kilometers per hour), nag-a-alarm na po yun kaya kampante kami na nakasakay doon,” the vice president-elect said.

Vice President Leni Robredo riding the bus with her family

However, she was forced to give it up last year due to security reasons. In a press conference held last 2016, she said she’s doing it to allay the fears of her supporters.

“Naiintindihan ko po yung concern. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa inyo at humihingi po ako ng pag-unawa,” Robredo said.

She added that it won’t change her as a person who wants to remain grounded at all times.

“It’s crucial for a public official to remain the person that you were before you started,” the Vice President explained.

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