The 19.4-kilometer Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) broke ground on Friday, September 24 – just three days after the Philippine government and the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) signed an agreement on the project.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and SMC president Ramon Ang led the groundbreaking ceremony in Pandacan, Manila. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Public Works Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral also attended the event.
Tugade on Friday pledged his full support for PAREX despite heavy criticisms from mobility groups and heritage conservationists.
“Unequivocally, I say the Department of Transportation, through my humble representation, fully supports this project because I know that it is good for the people, for the environment, and for everyone,” said Tugade.
Tugade also took a swipe at critics, saying they should instead look at the contributions of the SMC.
“Ang sabi nila itong proyekto na ‘to will not be good for the environment. Itong proyektong ito ay hindi good for maintaining (sic) climate change. Masasabi ko lang, sa mga nagbabato ng agam-agam at duda, tignan ‘nyo si Mr. Ramon Ang. Tignan ‘nyo ang San Miguel Corporation. Tignan ‘nyo ang mga proyektong itinayo at tinataguyod,” he said.
Tugade, who is not an environmental expert, added: “They always address not only the need of common tao (people) but more importantly, climate change.”
(They say that this project will not be good for the environment, that this project is not good for fighting climate change. All I can say is, for those who have doubts, look at Mr. Ramon Ang. Look at San Miguel Corporation. Look at the projects that they built and are building.)
The supplemental toll operations agreement, which officially greenlights the project, was only signed on Tuesday, September 21.
Mobility and environmental groups have slammed the planned expressway, saying that it would negatively impact public mobility, heritage, environment, and public health.
Tugade and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar were nominated by the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to be part of its Senate slate.
They would be deemed resigned in the first week of October should they push through with filing their candidacies for senator. – Rappler.com