San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang said there is no formal arrangement yet with architect and urban planner Felino Palafox, Jr. for the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project
There are only discussions on a consulting agreement
The SMC chief said he learned from Palafox that “forces critical of the project have been exerting pressure on him, his associates, and his family to drop the project”
Ang belied some claims against PAREX, including that it will cover and destroy the Pasig River, induce more pollution, and only benefit car users
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon Ang said there is no formal arrangement yet with architect and urban planner Felino Palafox, Jr. for the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project that will link the eastern and western cities of Metro Manila.
“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,” Ang said in a statement on September 28.
The SMC chief, however, claimed to have learned from Palafox 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,” he said.
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,” Ang said.
The SMC statement was issued after Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group over the weekend said they have not yet formalized an agreement with SMC.
“While it is true that the SMC and Mr. Ramon Ang have reached out to our principal architect and urban planner Felino ‘Jun’ Palafox Jr. to introduce green architecture and green urbanism principles in SMC infrastructure projects, this has never been formalized specifically for the PAREX project,” the Palafox firms said in a statement.
SMC clarified Ang’s earlier statement only mentioned that the company “is tapping Palafox”, which meant discussions are ongoing.
“Palafox signified his intention to think about the project and see how he can marry both his and RSA’s [Ang’s] vision for a sustainable, inclusive, green, hybrid infrastructure that will benefit both people and the environment,” SMC said.
Ang belied claims against PAREX, including its potential effect on the environment.
He said the project will not destroy Pasig River, and SMC “is taking action” by initiating a P2 billion river clean-up and rehabilitation effort that will initially extract at least 3 million metric tons of solid waste from the river. This is to allow the river to channel floodwaters more effectively and enable safer operations of water ferries.
PAREX will also not cover the entire Pasig River, as claimed by certain groups, but will only be built on the riverbank with the project’s posts occupying only one meter of the average 200- meter width of the river, Ang said.
The project will not only benefit the privileged who use cars as PAREX will be a hybrid expressway that will accommodate multiple modes of transportation, including a bus rapid transit system and public walkways, Ang said.
On claims PAREX will worsen pollution and induce people to buy more cars, he explained: “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. Traffic and pollution will worsen if we do not build efficient, multi-purpose, future-ready infrastructure such as the PAREX.”
PAREX is a 19.37-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway that will run along the banks of the river, from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 Road. The government recently green-lighted the P95-billion SMC-proposed project, which broke ground on September 24.
Ang said with the project now formally approved, “we can move forward with engaging design consultants and working on the detailed design.”
“This is the phase where all valid concerns of stakeholders will be taken into consideration—and where Arch. Palafox and his team can provide us invaluable help,” Ang added.
PAREX will have three major segments—Segment 1 from R-10 to Plaza Azul, Manila; Segment 2 from Pandacan to C-5; and Segment 3 from C-5 to C-6.
PAREX will also connect to, and utilize a 2.7-km portion of, the new Skyway Stage 3 from Nagtahan to Plaza Azul.