San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang has assured the public that the historical sites along the alignment of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project are being taken into consideration by the company.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Ang cautioned the public against misinformation allegedly being spread to “undermine the many benefits of the project to the greater number of Filipinos.”
“We’re a free country, and we respect everyone’s right to voice their opposition. In fact, after setting the record straight on some issues, we’ve largely let the critics do all the talking. We listen to valid opinions and points, but we just can’t let outright lies pass,” Ang said.
According to Ang, among the “lies and misconceptions” being spread about the project is that it will impact the heritage sites in Intramuros, Manila.
“For the record, per the basic alignment developed in consultation with, and approved by government, PAREX will not run on the Intramuros side, but on the other side, along Binondo,” Ang clarified.
Ang made the clarification after an illustration of the supposed alignment of PAREX alongside Intramuros went viral on social media.
“Very early in the process, common sense dictated we couldn’t place the alignment alongside Intramuros. Like many who oppose the project, we are also Filipinos who value our heritage sites, especially Intramuros, where we helped in the restoration of the Manila Cathedral a few years back,” Ang said.
“By placing the alignment on the other side, we can avoid any significant impact on Intramuros, and actually use the PAREX to showcase our heritage sites to users, including tourists. The area will also become more accessible to more Filipinos, via the planned Bus Rapid Transit system,” Ang added.
Ang reiterated that all valid concerns raised against PAREX are being taken into consideration as the project remains in the Detailed Engineering Design phase. SMC noted that this is the phase in the project’s development where the features and alignment of the project are being determined.
“Also, PAREX will be developed as a hybrid infrastructure: It will not just be for vehicles, but also for pedestrians, joggers, and bicycle users. More Filipinos can come and enjoy Intramuros. And with our P2-billion Pasig River clean-up initiative, the river here can be utilized for water transport and tourism, and not just as a docking area for barges,” Ang said.
“Right now, what we have is a basic alignment, developed with, and approved by government. And while this basic alignment already avoids Intramuros, it is by no means final. Other areas that people will have issues with, can still be adjusted, based on inputs from government and stakeholders during the detailed engineering design stage,” Ang emphasized.
As for the Arroceros Forest Park, Ang said that althoughthe section of PAREX runs alongside the area, “this can easily be remedied, via multiple engineering options. This includes raising or lowering the expressway, or moving it altogether,” he said.
“The bottom line is, we are committed to do this right, and nothing will get done without full approval of government. In the coming weeks, we will present visuals of what this infrastructure will look like and we assure you it will be adaptive, inclusive and ecologically resilient benefitting not just a few, but all of us,” Ang said.
Prior to this, an urban planner expressed his opposition to SMC’s PAREX project, saying that building more roads will not ease the country’s traffic woes.