MANILA - Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya on Friday said he is willing to ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) during rush hour.
"Yung hamon na gawin ko during rush hour, walang problema yan, ta-timingan ko lang," Abaya told radio dzMM.
"Nahihirapan ako sa umaga dahil naghahatid ako ng anak. Subukan ko rin sa gabi, may rush hour naman sa gabi," he said.
Abaya on Thursday accepted the challenge of riding the MRT, which has been hounded by technical glitches in recent weeks.
However, his trip did not sit well with many commuters and netizens, who quickly pointed out that he rode the train at an off-peak hour.
Some netizens also noted that he was in the front portion of the train, which is the space allotted for senior citizens, pregnant women and children.
According to Abaya, he wanted to keep his ride at the MRT "low-key."
"Ang preference ko sana ay yung low-key, personal, quiet pero magagaling mag-espiya ang media," he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Friday, Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network spokesperson Sammy Malunes called the transportation secretary a "coward" and a "liar."
"He wanted to prove that riding the MRT is safe, but rode the train system at a time when commuter volume is generally low and in stations where commuter volume is even lower. He is a coward and a liar," Malunes said.
He said many workers are being penalized on the basis of tardiness as a result of heavy traffic along EDSA, long queues at the MRT, and the train system's recent massive breakdowns.
"It is disgusting that instead of taking the steps necessary to improve the MRT, the Aquino government is engaging in cheap publicity gimmicks to make it appear that the MRT is safe and efficient," he said.