SMC responds to allegations vs. PAREX

Published September 29, 2021, 5:49 PM

by James A. Loyola

San Miguel Corporation clarified that, while it has held initial discussions, the firm has not formally engaged Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group, Inc. for a consulting agreement for the P95 billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project.

“There is no formal engagement with Arch Palafox, but we have been in discussion, something that we have been very clear from the start – that we want him to help us do PAREX right,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said in a statement.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President Ramon S. Ang

Ang noted that, in all of the company’s related statements, it said it “is tapping Palafox.” SMC said this means that “discussions are ongoing.” Palafox signified his intention to think about the project and see how he can marry both his and RSA’s vision for a sustainable, inclusive, green, hybrid infrastructure that will benefit both people and the environment.

He said “Architect Palafox is one of the master-planners of one of our major projects and in our regular meetings with him, he has expressed strong belief in the need to increase accessibility between the eastern and western corridors of Metro Manila as part of a broader strategy towards decongesting Metro Manila, and easing the many negative impacts of traffic.”

“We’ve come to learn from him, however, that forces critical of the project have been exerting pressure on him, his associates, and his family to drop the project. We believe this is part of an orchestrated and continuing demolition job to paint the project as the opposite of what it truly is,” Ang said.

Ang alleged that, “those leading others to denounce the project are manipulative and single-minded in their goal of creating distrust for PAREX for their own agenda.”

He said this is being done “Despite public pronouncements we’ve made committing to undertake the project at a level of sustainability never before done by any other private company—including the P2 billion cleanup of the Pasig River and its long-term rehabilitation; integration of a Bus Rapid Transit system, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian walkways; and our intent to tap Arch. Palafox to ensure the project will integrate green architecture principles.”

On allegations that PAREX will destroy Pasig River, Ang said “Pasig River has long been considered biologically dead and has been reduced to a flowing dumpsite for solid waste, industrial and chemical wastes, and sewage.”

“But SMC is taking action. We are mounting the largest river clean-up and rehabilitation effort for the Pasig River. We will spend P2 billion initially to extract at least 3 million metric tons of solid waste from the river to allow it to channel floodwaters more effectively. This will also allow for safer operations of water ferries,” he said.

Regarding photos circulating that PAREX will cover the entire Pasig River, Ang said PAREX will be built only on the banks of Pasig River, its posts occupying only 1 meter of the average 200 meters width of the Pasig River.

He also denied that PAREX is anti-poor as it will only benefit the privileged who use cars.

“We have announced the PAREX will be a hybrid expressway, accommodating multiple modes of transportation. Apart from accommodating motor vehicles, it will also feature a modern and efficient public transport system in the form of a Bus Rapid Transit that will run on both the Skyway and PAREX,” said Ang.

Ang also said it is not true that PAREX will worsen pollution and induce people to buy more cars.

“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. The number of vehicles will continue to rise with or without PAREX,” he said.

Ang explained that, “Providing better, more efficient alternative public transport in the form of PAREX’s BRT and other ongoing mass rail projects, will also lessen the use of cars.”