MANILA, Philippines —San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang defended the Pasig River Expressway (PAREx) because the conglomerate’s P95-billion answer to fight Metro Manila’s “monstrous” visitors faces mounting opposition from environmental and sustainable transport teams.
In a strongly-worded assertion, Ang known as the clamor to cease the PAREx an “orchestrated and continuing demolition job to paint the project as the opposite of what it truly is.”
He added that SMC was nonetheless finalizing the detailed engineering design. This is the place the corporate will handle “all valid concerns” on the planned 19.4-kilometer hybrid expressway, which is able to rise alongside the Pasig River banks in Metro Manila.
Protests in opposition to the challenge grew louder over the previous week after the PAREx gained the approval of key nationwide authorities companies.
Last Sept. 21, SMC sealed a supplemental toll operations settlement (STOA) with the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways and Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).
Days later, a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held, with Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade promising his full help for the PAREx challenge.
Groups such because the Move As One Coalition, an advocate for safer and inclusive transport, stated mega expressways corresponding to PAREx weren’t the answer and it urged the federal government to make investments extra in protected bike lanes and mass public transportation.
Its members stated the PAREx may also encourage the use of automobiles, ultimately undoing the advantages of a brand new street, worsen air pollution for close by communities and destroy Pasig River’s cultural heritage.
Ang responded by calling the Pasig River “long dead.” Moreover, he famous that SMC’s ongoing clear up efforts will revive the river, which performs an important function in draining extra water from Laguna Lake into Manila Bay.
“There are those who only cry for the long-dead Pasig river to be ‘saved’ now—after being indifferent to it and our many other rivers that have suffered the same fate, for so many decades,” Ang stated.
SMC is spending about P2 billion to rehabilitate the Pasig River and retrieve at the least three million metric tons of strong waste, which hampers its means to channel floodwaters.
The personal sector is stepping in after the current administration appeared to have scaled again restoration efforts.
In November 2019, President Duterte ordered the abolition of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) and transferred its features to different authorities companies.
Saying the river might not be cleaned, Duterte stated the cash ought to as a substitute be used to purchase meals and medicines.
Move As One co-convenor Robert Siy stated abolishing the fee was a mistake.
“The PRRC was doing many good things. The river was coming back to life,” he instructed the Inquirer.
“To abolish PRRC was to admit defeat,” he stated.
Ang stated SMC, a meals and drinks conglomerate which diversified into infrastructure over a decade in the past, had the assets and engineering experience to “take care of the river for the long-term.”
“It will be a great disservice to millions of Filipinos who will benefit from the multiple benefits of this project, if a vocal, passionate, but perhaps misinformed sectors of society, will be swayed to inaction or the status quo,” Ang stated.
But advocates stated the PAREx additionally creates different issues.
During a separate press convention on Wednesday, Move as One Coalition member and former Department of Finance undersecretary John Phillip Sevilla stated he was not in opposition to city expressways however he was opposed to PAREx.
“We are protesting PAREx because it will negatively affect the environment and it will destroy our few remnants of history,” he stated in Filipino.
Sevilla stated the challenge was not the answer to visitors, which prices the financial system billions of pesos in every day losses, as a result of it’s going to encourage the use of automobiles as a substitute of extra sustainable transportation choices.
He additionally revealed his shock the earlier week upon studying the challenge was authorized and the STOA was signed. He stated the TRB instructed them final May that PAREx was nonetheless within the ““incipient” stage. TRB officers didn’t instantly reply to an Inquirer’s request for remark.
Ira Cruz, director of AltMobility PH, known as on the federal government to channel spending towards protected bike lanes, racks and repair contracting for public transportation.
This would price P14 billion and P76 billion, respectively, and would have far-reaching advantages for almost all of Filipinos in Metro Manila who don’t personal automobiles, he stated through the media briefing.
In his assertion, Ang stated the PAREx would handle the demand for different kinds of transport.
“PAREx will also not be exclusive to vehicles. It will incorporate bicycle lanes and pedestrian areas, to provide a safer environment for people to use alternative ways of getting from one place to another,” he stated.
He countered the assertion that PAREx will worsen street congestion.
“It is not expressways that induce people to buy more cars. It is poor or insufficient public transportation, pollution, and even personal progress of people,” he stated.
“Through well-designed infrastructure, we will decongest our cities, make trips faster and more economical, and help reduce air pollution caused by hours of stand-still traffic all over Metro Manila—including in city or residential streets that motorists use as ‘short cut’ routes,” Ang added.
The six-lane expressway will present an important street hyperlink between Metro Manila’s east to the west hall.
It will run from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 Road or the South East Metro Manila Expressway in Taguig and can incorporate a bus fast transit system.
PAREx may also be linked to SMC’s Skyway 3, permitting extra handy transfers between toll roads.
SMC Infrastructure’s presentation for PAREx said that the challenge may also have ramps in Buendia, Makati, Bonifacio Globe City, Pioneer and Mandaluyong. Once completed, it’s going to lower driving time from Manila to Rizal to about quarter-hour.
One of the issues raised was the precise dimension of PAREx for the reason that Pasig River has a median width of 91 meters, in accordance to the Water Environment Partnership in Asia, an initiative beneath the Ministry of Environment of Japan.
In the challenge paperwork, SMC Infrastructure stated the expressway can be “built on top of the Pasig River” however “will not cover the entirety” of the waterway.
Because of new PAREx options corresponding to bike lanes and a BRT, SMC ought to revise the challenge proposal and inform and seek the advice of the stakeholders concerned, Siy stated in separate assertion.
He defined this was a requirement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier than issuing the environmental compliance certificates (ECC), which is required for the challenge to proceed.
Even with an ECC, Siy maintained he would oppose the challenge.
“A much better option would be to drop PAREx and to pursue river rehabilitation and beautification, plus the sustainable travel options,” he stated.
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