Climate and Environment

Groups urge Duterte to withhold approval of Pasig River expressway

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups urge Duterte to withhold approval of Pasig River expressway
This October 2021 photo shows a member of artist-heritage advocacy group Renacimiento Manila in Jones Bridge, Manila.
Renacimiento Manila, Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Mobility advocates and concerned citizens asked President Rodrigo Duterte to withhold the approval of the proposed Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project, which is feared to harm the environment, health of residents and the country's heritage.

The Move As One Coalition and over 77,000 individuals sent a letter to Duterte on Thursday after the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) indicated the Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA) for the project may be submitted to the chief executive for his approval. 

The groups said the TRB has yet to conduct a thorough analysis of the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits of PAREX.

“Considering the magnitude of the project and its location on the country’s most important waterway, the project should not proceed without a rigorous project economic analysis,” they said.  

The groups added the details of the project also remain unclear.

They also stressed that Duterte’s approval of STOA may give the impression that the construction of the 19-kilometer elevated expressway should proceed even if its potential negative impacts are significant.

According to groups opposing the project of conglomerate San Miguel Corp., PAREX will exacerbate—not solve—the traffic congestion in Metro Manila and cause further damage to the Pasig River. The six-lane expressway will run along the banks of the river from Radial Road in Manila to C-6 in Taguig.

It is also seen to affect role of Pasig River in improving climate resilience, bring more flooding and hotter temperatures, and worsen noise and air pollution.

“The government should be open to the possibility that PAREX could be halted if found to deliver significant harm or it its net contribution turns out to be negative,” the organizations said.

“It would be best to avoid any type of presidential approval at this time, so that the project is not assumed to already have a final ‘green light’ from the highest-level decision-maker. Avoiding presidential approval of the STOA would enable the project to be assessed comprehensively in an objective and unbiased manner,” they added.

The TRB and the Department of Transportation signed the STOA with SMC on September 21. Three days later, the DOTR and the SMC held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project.

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