Senator Grace Poe must have barked on the wrong tree when she hit Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade for not solving Metro Manila’s traffic and calling him an under-performer.

The DOTr did not take the tirades of the lawmaker lightly. It fired back by educating Poe on the mandate of the government agency and the performance card of its head. The office clarified things by laying its argument beginning with its mandate that addressing traffic woes is not in its job description. That said, it also clarified that the agency is not washing its hands on the traffic woes of the metropolis by saying so. Likewise, it clarified another thing: that Secretary Tugade was designated as the country’s traffic czar in a proposed bill in 2016 which did not push through.

It all began with Senator Poe saying in a television interview that Tugade must be replaced because he is underperforming and is unable to solve traffic congestion problems. To which, the DOTr quickly rattled off Tugade’s scorecard as head of the department–completion of 64 airports, 220 commercial and social/tourism port projects, and one land port under his leadership—not including another 133 airport projects, 121 port projects, and six ongoing railway projects. The agency also defended its head saying Tugade pushed for the 24/7 construction and enforcement of partial operability timelines of projects.

Senator Poe obviously made a careless remark here. Perhaps she was not given the correct runaround by her advisers. Yes, talking on very delicate subjects like Manila’s traffic problems could get her in the news. However, it is disrespectful to those who know the bureaucracy to bring up a topic that is offhand out of sync. Like barking at the wrong tree.

Considering that Senator Poe was one of the lawmakers who blocked the measure to grant President Rodrigo Duterte the emergency powers to solve the traffic problems, the move that would have made Tugade the traffic solver, she should be pointing at herself for misjudging what could have been the rightful solution. Problem was, Poe was too malicious to think the President might abuse the emergency powers and use it for corruption.

Talking on subject that one is not too familiar with or has not been briefed correctly is indeed a challenging experience. It exposes novices who are unfamiliar with the executive environment.