When bilyonaryo Ramon S. Ang signed up to clean up and develop Pasig River, he did not expect that the job would also involve mucking out the fake news meant to derail San Miguel Corp.’s P95 billion, 19.4-kilometer expressway project.
“There are those who only cry for the long-dead Pasig river to be ‘saved’ now—after being indifferent to it and our many other rivers that have suffered the same fate, for so many decades,” said the SMC president and CEO in a statement.
“SMC has the capability, resources, and engineering talent to clean-up, rehabilitate, and take care of the river for the long-term, even as we will rely on it to help solve our cities’ many problems…All these at no cost to taxpayers and government,” he added.
Ang called haters of the Pasig River Expressway Project (PAREX) “manipulative” and “single-minded” in their efforts to block what he claimed was the only infrastructure project on the table which offered a “long-term, inclusive, and sustainable solution to traffic congestion, flooding, public transport inadequacies, and decades of Pasig River pollution.”
As proof of his passion for the project, Ang personally took the time to unmask the lies that opponents of the projects have peddled to gain public support for their cause.
* Critics claim PAREX will destroy Pasig River but Ang noted that Pasig River has long been considered biologically dead – it has been turned into a dumpsite for wastes with river depth reduced to 1.5 to 2 meters which has resulted to chronic and severe flooding in Metro Manila. Ang has allocated an initial P2 billion to extract at least 3 million metric tons of solid waste from the river.
* Critics have spread photos showing that PAREX would cover the entire Pasig river. Ang pointed out that the expressway would be built on posts taking up only one meter of the 200-meter average width of the Pasig River.
* Critics claim PAREX is anti-poor because it will only benefit car owners. Ang noted that the project would include multiple modes of transportation from bicycles to buses and pedestrian areas.
* Critics say PAREX will worsen pollution as it would induce people to buy more cars. Ang said poor public transportation and a person’s progress would induce people to buy more cars, not expressways. He said a well-designed infrastructure would help decongest city streets and reduce pollution.
Ang also addressed the vilification campaign mounted by PAREX haters to pressure architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox to abandon the project.
“There is no formal engagement with Architect 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,” said Ang.
“We’ve come to learn from him, however, 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 added.
Despite these roadblocks, Ang said SMC was pushing through with the design phase of PAREX . “This is the phase where all valid concerns of stakeholders will be taken into consideration—and where Architect Palafox and his team can provide us invaluable help,” said Ang.