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A TRANSPORT advocacy has urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reassess the proposed Pasig River Expressway (PAREX), citing its environmental impact. 

The Move As One Coalition said that the expressway will deliver “little or no benefit while causing significant harm,” calling it the “wrong project for today and tomorrow.” 

PAREX is San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) planned P95-billion, six-lane elevated highway, which will traverse Manila, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Makati, and Pasig along the river’s course. 

Move As One urged the government to postpone the public hearing on PAREX scheduled for March 25. 

“The PAREX scoping meeting on July 14 (2021) was not carried out correctly and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project contains two different expressway alignments, a serious error that will mislead and confuse stakeholders,” the coalition said in a statement. 

On March 23, the coalition issued an 18-page statement and its own environmental impact assessment to the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR. 

“If the EIA is undertaken correctly and comprehensively, the EIA will show that the damage from PAREX significantly outweighs its questionable and likely small benefits. A project with negative impacts that exceed expected benefits should not be allowed to proceed, especially if the negative impacts are significant and not amenable to mitigation,” Move As One said. 

“Unlike other major infrastructure projects, PAREX has never undergone the normal scrutiny and careful review by the government’s multi-agency Investment Coordination Committee. PAREX was never given any scrutiny by the Toll Regulatory Board, except for a cursory technical and financial evaluation with very little detail,” it added. 

Move As One said that SMC was not required to submit a comprehensive project economic analysis incorporating all costs and benefits including losses from likely negative social, economic, and environmental impacts. 

“For this reason, the EIA of PAREX needs to be a comprehensive and credible accounting of all impacts that the project will bring. It may be the only opportunity the Filipino people will have to put a stop to a harmful project. It is therefore important that the proponent should not be permitted to take any ‘shortcuts’ or to submit an incomplete or half-baked EIA,” it said. 

“The draft EIA Report has missed out on several significant impacts of PAREX. Because of the considerable harm that PAREX could bring to millions of Filipinos, to priceless heritage assets and to the environment, these likely impacts deserve to be analyzed thoroughly by the proponent,” it added.  

The coalition estimated that the economic cost of the urban blight to nearby communities at a minimum of P96.9 billion. 

It also cited the health and economic impacts of PAREX, including the increase in ambient air temperature, and air and noise pollution. 

“Neighborhoods in the vicinity of PAREX will become warmer. Increased temperature is expected from motor vehicles, from the reduction of the natural cooling effect of the Pasig River, and from the ‘urban heat island effect.’ Increased temperatures will result in illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke and more deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases,” Move As One said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson