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Groups oppose Pasig River Expressway project

Several groups from different sectors on Wednesday raised their opposition to the planned 19.37-kilometer Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), saying that it will worsen traffic congestion and harm the river.

In a press conference, some members of Move as One Coalition pointed out issues surrounding the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) project , which already broke ground on September 24.

Former Finance undersecretary John Phillip “Sunny” Sevilla said the coalition opposed the project as it may destroy the environment, neglect heritage conservation, and worsen traffic problems.

“Tutol kami sa PAREX [We oppose PAREX],” he said.

Sevilla said the coalition has been reaching out to concerned agencies such as the Toll Regulatory Board, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The coalition said it did not have the chance to share insights on the proposed six-lane elevated expressway that will run along the banks of the river, from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 Road in Taguig City.

Tina Paterno, president of the International Council of Monuments and Sites,  said that in other countries many road infrastructures built along rivers were demolished to prioritize environmental rehabilitation.

These include the Cheonggye Freeway in Seoul, the Nihonbashi Expressway in Tokyo, and Harbor Drive in Portland, Oregon.

“To be clear, heritage preservation is not anti-development, it’s actually a vital part of it. In fact, other countries are increasingly integrating heritage in their development,” Paterno said.

The coalition also opened a petition on to stop the freeway's construction.

In the petition, the group declared that PAREX will worsen traffic congestion and air pollution, destroy the river's ecology, and "will kill any effort to restore the beauty of the Pasig River and to make our cities liveable.".

Earlier, SMC president Ramon Ang on Friday addressed objections to the project, saying that it is a “private investment, we will spend our own money.”

“We are not the type of people who will build something that will be bad for the public, the environment, and our country, for the sake of profits,” he said.

“In fact, we are investing a lot of money and other resources for these projects, even if the returns will take a while—because our country needs them,” he added. — BM, GMA News