Mobility and environmental groups have long slammed San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) proposal to build a 19.4-kilometer expressway along the Pasig River, saying the project will negatively impact public mobility, heritage, environment and public health.
Emphasizing how the project will be “Pasig River’s death sentence,” a multi-sectoral coalition of mobility, heritage, culture, environment, health, tourism, economic reform, and youth advocates launched a Change.org petition calling on concerned agencies and Filipinos to help stop the proposed Pasig River Expressway.
The coalition, dubbed the “#IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement,” added how the “harm from PAREX will far outweigh any projected benefits.”
In its proposal, SMC said PAREX would decongest Metro Manila traffic and clean up the Pasig River.
“We take this stand for Filipinos past, present, and future and for all citizens of the world who believe that the Pasig River is a living entity that deserves protection and respect,” the #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement said in its petition.
The petition pointed out how building another expressway will only induce more car travel, harming not just public transport commuters but slow down car users too.
It added how PAREX will be a “repeat of the mistakes progressive cities have made decades ago,” citing the work of Seoul, San Francisco, among others, in dismantling inner-city or elevated expressways to improve mobility, revitalize rivers, and protect their heritage. It also said the project will further worsen Metro Manila’s car-centric investments for the past decade.
The #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement said in its petition that car travel above the Pasig River will increase non-exhaust emissions like microplastics from car tires, road dust, and particulate matter that will populate our waterways.
Aside from contributing to Metro Manila’s traffic congestion, PAREX will also undo the years of work done to restore the river and make our cities livable, according to the petition. The #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement especially emphasized how PAREX will worsen air pollution, destroy the river’s ecology, and make Metro Manila more vulnerable to the climate crisis.
“The project is a step back, not a step forward. The Php 95 billion that SMC plans to spend on PAREX cannot compensate for the irreparable damage that the project will wreak on our society,” the petition stated.
The #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement urged SMC president Ramon Ang to instead use the massive sum to “improve the promenades by the Pasig, improve the ferry system, and protect the heritage and ecology of the Pasig River. Otherwise, future taxpayers will have to bear the cost of taking PAREX down, as has happened in the most progressive cities in the world.”
The coalition, through the Change.org petition, called on members of the Toll Regulatory Board to withdraw approval of the PAREX until “all economic, social, environmental, and heritage issues have been resolved.”
It also asked the project’s full economic costs, and its impact assessments be made public, as well as its approvals and other relevant details to ensure “sufficient public consultation and inputs into decisions regarding PAREX.”
Among the calls to action listed in the petition are for leaders and representatives in Congress to investigate the process that led to the approval of PAREX, and for National Commission for Culture and the Arts to issue a comprehensive assessment on how PAREX can affect built heritage sites along Pasig River and file an emergency petition declaring the Pasig River as a Cultural Landscape of National Significance.
The petition also urged all citizens, especially those who reside near the Pasig River, to attend their Barangay Assemblies in October to object to the project.
As of Thursday, September 30, more than 4,700 individuals have signed #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement’s petition.
Check out the English and Filipino versions of #IlogPasiglahin #NoToPAREX Movement’s petition which also lists sources for their stance here. Individuals and organizations that want to help echo the call to stop PAREX may sign and share the petition here.