MANILA, PHILIPPINES: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr is facing criticism for his choice of transportation to attend Coldplay’s “Music of the Spheres” concert in Bulacan last Friday (19 Jan).
The President’s decision to arrive via a presidential helicopter has sparked outrage among citizens, who argue that it highlights the stark contrast between the elite and ordinary Filipinos grappling with the daily traffic woes of Metro Manila.
Videos and photos circulating on social media depict the President disembarking from the helicopter at the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena, where the concert took place.
Mind you, di lang isa ang gamit. Kaya pala ang mahal ng tax ko para may pang heli at concert tix sya. pic.twitter.com/OpgVS0zAy0
— 𝚇𝚑𝚢♡ (@xhymari) January 19, 2024
VIP rides and Metro Manila’s notorious traffic
The Philippine capital consistently ranks high in global traffic indices, with the 2023 TomTom Traffic Index labeling it as the slowest metro area for travel, averaging over 25 minutes to cover just 10 kilometers.
On the night of the Coldplay concert, the traffic situation was exacerbated as approximately 40,000 individuals flocked to the Philippine Arena.
In response to the anticipated chaos, President Marcos opted to fly directly to the venue in his presidential helicopter.
Critics wasted no time expressing their disapproval, with most individuals accusing Marcos of turning a blind eye to the country’s ‘horrible public transportation system.’
Some went as far as questioning whether the President’s attendance at the concert constituted an abuse of power or a misuse of government resources.
A Facebook user quoted by Reuters remarked, “We paid for the use of the chopper, fuel, and security, who knows even for the tickets for everyone.”
Others pointed out the apparent disparity between the President’s seamless travel experience and the hardships faced by regular concertgoers.
While fans struggle to find ways to get to the PH Arena in Bulacan due to horrible public transportation system, the nepo baby President that came from a corrupt family of murderers which made the PH drown in generations of debt arrives in a helicopter funded by tax payers 😀 https://t.co/pEH3hFpqd8
— ⍤⃝ (@wednesdaes) January 19, 2024
Even Coldplay’s frontman, Chris Martin, addressed the notorious traffic of Metro Manila during the concert, acknowledging the efforts of the audience to overcome the challenges.
“We’ve seen some traffic. But I think you have the number one [traffic] in the world. Thank you for making the effort to come through all of that bullsh*t to be here,” he said during the concert.”
President Marcos, who was spotted in the audience, appeared to take the comment in good humor, smiling and laughing in response.
According to Filipino online news media, Rappler, Renato Reyes, the president of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) had characterized Marcos’ actions as a “grave insult to millions of Filipino commuters,” highlighting the absence of a “progressive and pro-people” mass transportation system in the nation.
He remarked, “A president who takes a chopper to watch a concert amid terrible traffic and a mass transport crisis, will not sympathize with jeepney drivers, operators and commuters. This is the state of transportation in the Philippines today.”
President’s actions clashed with Coldplay’s eco-friendly tour message
Furthermore, Filipinos online also pointed out the irony of the president’s actions, particularly in light of Coldplay’s “Music of the Spheres” world tour, which aims to champion environmental sustainability.
The tour includes initiatives such as the use of reusable LED wristbands and the installation of electricity-generating power bikes and kinetic floors, among other eco-friendly measures.
One user wrote, “all the effort of Coldplay and their team in promoting sustainability while on tour, finding a way to make that work here in the Philippines, only for this a**hole to fly in a chopper probably funded by … take a wild guess!”
coldplay literally advocates for sustainability and this guy literally pulls up on taxpayer’s chopper kapal talaga ng mukha ng pamilyang to https://t.co/1xgwAwJIJA
— jal (@jaeminaegyu) January 19, 2024
Presidential Security Group’s chief said helicopter ride was due to security concerns
The Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief, Major General Nelson Morales, issued a statement on 20 January, defending the decision to transport Marcos by helicopter.
Morales cited the “unprecedented influx” of 40,000 people and the resulting “unforeseen traffic complications” as the rationale behind ensuring the President’s safety through the use of the presidential chopper.
“This decision not only ensured the safety of our leader but also exemplified our commitment to prioritizing security in the face of unexpected challenges,” Morales explained.
He urged the public to understand and support these measures, emphasizing their role in maintaining the safety and well-being of the nation’s leadership.
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