SMC's Ang downplays rumors vs. PAREX anew

Ramon Ang

The leadership of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) downplayed claims that the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project did not take into consideration the presence of historical sites along its stretch.

SMC President Ramon Ang cautioned the public against making those assumptions from those challenging the project. “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.

PAREX Groundbreaking

Ang noted that among the lies and misconceptions is that the project will impact heritage sites in Intramuros, Manila as seen in an illustration spreading over social media.

“False. The image did not come from us. 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.

 “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,” the SMC chief claimed.


Ang also said that “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 explained, adding that the infrastructure will be developed 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.”

PAREX STOA signing

Further, Ang said that even today, long-existing issues continue to impact heritage sites in the walled city, including the presence of informal settlers, a golf driving range, barges, and rows of warehouses, condominiums and informal settlers serving as views, along with the polluted river, from Fort Santiago.

All valid concerns raised against the project are being taken into consideration in the Detailed Engineering Design phase for the project, Ang disclosed. All the features of the project will be finalized during this stage.

“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,” he highlighted.

Ramon Ang

Ang said that another area critics are concerned about is the Arroceros Forest Park.  In the current basic alignment, the section of the PAREX runs alongside the area.

SMC said however that it can be addressed via multiple engineering options. This includes raising or lowering the expressway, or moving it altogether.

“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 explained.

Ang said that he is intent on getting on board top urban planners and green architects to ensure that the project will be done correctly and sustainably.

PAREX Groundbreaking

Ang cited that while the PAREX’s design and alignment can be easily adapted to various needs, the bigger issues that need to be addressed are the encroachments made on the Pasig River’s easements — which include permanent and temporary structures built by businesses, factories, and residential communities along the river.

“These structures are actually among the many reasons why the river remains polluted, despite numerous efforts to rehabilitate it, and why flooding continues to worsen,” Ang said. “We want to make life better for the greater number of Filipinos — those who drive, those who commute, those making a living, and even those who prefer to walk or bike through a nice riverside to get to their destination. This is why PAREX is inclusive.”

He concluded,  “We cannot afford just a solution that will build landscaped walkways and beautify the surroundings but does not solve the very real urban problems affecting millions of Filipinos every day, that have sadly become so normalized in our society, that some would rather not do anything instead of disrupting the status quo.”

Photos from Department of Public Works and Highways, San Miguel Corporation

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