‘Public stunt?’ Suspicion over Palace official’s commute, market visit

March 8, 2021 - 8:17 PM
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Sal Panelo commuting
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo rides a jeepney after progressive groups challenged him to take public transportation to work on Frday, Oct. 11, 2019. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Twitter users recently criticized the social media post of a media outlet last Sunday, wherein a supposed “commuter” took photos of a former presidential spokesman onboard a jeepney to get to Agora Public Market in San Juan City.

Based on the photos, the commuter who was left anonymous seemed to have followed chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo from the jeepney trip to the market.

There was also a photo of the official buying shrimps at a stall there.

He was also wearing a face mask and could not easily be recognizable if not identified in the social media post.

Local Twitterverse cited these observations when they expressed their skepticism over Panelo’s move to take the public transportation.

“Sinundan hanggang palengke (crying emojis). I have to laugh,” one user said.

“If totoong ‘commuter’ ang kumuha ng pics how did he recognize that the other person behind that mask is Panelo? Tapos sinundan niya pa sa palengke?” another said.

Some users described the “commuter” as Panelo’s stalker.

“Stalker si another commuter (crying emoji),” the user wrote.

One Twitter user juxtaposed it with old photos of Sen. Grace Poe riding MRT-3 in 2014.

That time, Poe rode the train from the North Avenue station in Quezon City to the other end, which is Taft Station in Pasay City.

A few Filipinos pointed out that it seemed unusual that the commuter shared the photos to a news outlet first before posting them online.

“Commuter who also went to the market, and sent the photos to the Manila Bulletin anonymously instead of posting them in social media? Nice try. (laughing emoji,” one user said.

In 2019, Panelo also took public transportation to work as a response to a challenge by Renato Reyes Jr. of the left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

READ: Commuting challenge: Comparing experiences of Sal Panelo, Toyota chief

The challenge was set to supposedly disprove the high-ranking official’s previous assumption that there’s no transport crisis in the country.

Panelo took nearly four hours to travel to Malacañang.

However, even after performing the dare, Panelo was not convinced. He urged commuters to be “creative” in their daily commute.

 Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. defended his colleague and claimed that the Palace official is a long-time commuter contrary to what the public perceives of him.

In a tweet later that night, Locsin said: “THOSE are not Netizens but Netwits. Panelo’s been taking jeepneys since he became a public official.”