Not amused by Philippine government officials responding to the Ice Bucket Challenge, netizens have dared top-ranking officials to instead take the #MRTRushHourChallenge and #PNRRushHourChallenge.
Netizens called on officials to ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) as well as the Philippine National Railways (PNR), which run across the country’s national capital region, during the rush hour to experience for themselves the difficulties that ordinary commuters experience every day.
Owned by private company MRT Corporation and operated in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Corporation, the MRT has been plagued by long lines that stretch for hours, technical glitches, and congested coaches.
Meanwhile, passengers of the state-owned PNR are complaining of deteriorating service as government continues to give inadequate subsidy for the country's public railways.
MRT also figured in a recent accident on August 13 when one of its train coaches derailed, injuring some of its passengers.
An online petition by Dinna Dayao on Change.org calls on President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to require all public officials take public transit at least once a month. The petition has garnered over 12,000 signatures.
Senator Grace Poe took the #MRTChallenge. But Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya was criticized by netizens for taking the coach for the elderly and disabled on a slow hour, escorted by bodyguards, and complete with full media coverage. President Aquino himself has refused to take the challenge.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter which reflect the growing dissatisfaction of train riders in Metro Manila:
Sa pasikat nilang pagsakay sa MRT: kung kinakailangan niyo pa yan gawin para lang maintindihan ang kalagayan namin, nabigo niyo na kami.
— Cleve Arguelles (@clevearguelles) August 29, 2014
MRT ride as publicity stunts: if you need to do that in order to understand our situation, then you have failed us.
Oh please. Taking the MRT once does not prove anything. Other than … politicians needing some ‘pleasant’ media mileage. #MRTChallenge
— inastuartsantiago (@radikalchick) August 29, 2014
Ice bucket challenge, and our gov't officials accomplished it. madali nilang Inaccept yung challenge, why not #PNRRushHourChallenge?
— Johnrhey ü (@espinozajre) September 1, 2014
Ice bucket challenge, and our gov't officials accomplished it. they easily accepted the challenge, why not #PNRRushHourChallenge?
As per DOTC Abaya, it was a ‘pleasant’ riding the MRT. WOW. Dude, you just did it on a non-peak hour tagging along your entire entourage.
— JE (@je_escarcha) August 29, 2014
Ngek. May press coverage pa ang pag MRT ni Abaya. Dapat game na lang yan for all commuters daily: spot Abaya in the MRT.
— Ethel (@econcepcion) August 28, 2014
[Transportation Secretary] Abaya’s MRT ride even had press coverage. This should instead be a daily game for commuters: spot Abaya in the MRT.
Magbasa naman at magresearch muna ang mga nagsasabing ‘fare hike’ at privatization ang solusyon sa #MRTbulok. MRT is private, leased to PH.
— Tonyo Cruz (@tonyocruz) August 29, 2014
Those who suggest that ‘fare hikes’ and privatization is the solution to MRT woes should read and research first. MRT is private, leased to the Philippines.
MRT presents a clear case against PPP [Private-Public Partnerships], a sobering counterpoint against the myth of private sector's strengths
— Carlos Maningat (@jcmaningat) September 1, 2014
forget the #MRTChallenge .I challenge all politicians to explain your wealth. so we know how to buy a mansion with a politician's salary.
— Sean de Jesus (@seantdj) September 3, 2014
The popularity of these rush hour challenges is an indicator of the depth of the riding public's increasing discontent with the country's privatized mass transit system. Authorities should quickly respond to the challenge by fixing the problems besetting the train service in the nation's capital.