After veto of Bulacan airport ecozone status, commuters urge Marcos gov't to review PAREX

After veto of Bulacan airport ecozone status, commuters urge Marcos gov't to review PAREX
This October 2021 photo shows a member of artist-heritage advocacy group Renacimiento Manila in Jones Bridge, Manila.
Renacimiento Manila, Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — After President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed the bill granting ecozone status for the new Bulacan airport, a transport advocacy network called on the new administration to also check the proposed Pasig River Expressway, also a project of conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

This comes after Marcos vetoed House Bill No. 7575 declaring a special economic zone around the planned airport in Bulacan because of what he said were fiscal risks and overlapping mandates among government agencies in a move that was welcomed by green groups.

In a statement sent to reporters, commuter group The Passenger Forum said that instead of the PAREX, which "is peppered with a lot of issues and controversies," the government should rehabilitate the Pasig River to maximize it for public transportation amid the commuter crisis and skyrocketing fuel prices in the metro. 

“It is not commuter-friendly because it prioritizes private cars and contrary to the claims of Ramon Ang, the project’s technical details do not mention anything about a bus rapid transit system, bike lanes, or any features for pedestrians. It is not environment-friendly as it will be detrimental to the rehabilitation of the Pasig River. It also endangers multiple heritage sites and historical buildings in Manila, especially inside Intramuros. Even their Environment Impact Assessment report has been suspected to be plagiarized," TPF Convener Primo Morillo said. 

“The Pasig River traverses various densely-populated and busy areas of Metro Manila and it is an existing resource that we can maximize for public transportation especially now that we are in a transport crisis. We think that providing additional water buses and ensuring better passenger experience in the Pasig River Ferry Service will offer an alternative form of transportation for a lot of commuters,” he explained.

Transport and environmental collectives opposed to the project have said that the 19-kilometer elevated expressway's economic, environmental, health, and heritage impacts will ultimately outweigh its projected benefits while also only exacerbating the traffic congestion in Metro Manila instead of solving it. 

As for the Bulacan airport, TPF suggested that it is better to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and expand the Clark airport in Pampanga.

Earlier, the NAIA was called the "worst business class airport in the world" after it received the lowest overall score in a recent study.

“We know that what was vetoed is just the economic zone status of the airport city but we maintain that the San Miguel Aerocity is not necessary at this point,” Morillo said in the group's statement. 

"We should rehabilitate NAIA instead and then expand Clark airport. If we need another airport near Metro Manila, it is better to place it in a province south of NCR as Clark is already located north of Manila."

The UniTeam of Marcos earlier proposed the modernization of ferry transportation system and committed to supporting the proposed Pasig River Ferry Convergence Program.

In a release on January 13, they said the team “plans to construct new and disaster-resilient ferry stations, improve on existing ones, and launch safe, sleek and state-of-the-art ferries to encourage commuters in patronizing them.” — with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico




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