METRO Pacific Tollways South Management Corp. (MPT South) signed a partnership deal with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday as part of its efforts to make the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) a “green highway.”

Through the USAID’s Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes (SIBOL) project, the two parties intend to work on a program aimed at improving natural resources management, which will include tree planting activities along CALAX.

[In] the memorandum agreement at this point, there is no specific time frame,” MPT South President and General Manager Roberto V. Bontia said during the virtual signing of the partnership deal.

“At the moment as well…, there is no commitment in terms of financials from both sides, but I think what is important to highlight is the start of the partnership in terms of what programs and initiatives we can actually undertake given our respective resources,” he added.

According to the MPT South, the initiative is in line with its support for the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, particularly in terms of upgrading all industries and infrastructures to make them sustainable and promoting innovation in building assets in order to meet the company’s climate action commitments.

“Environmental issues such as climate change and habitat loss are concerns not exclusive to the purview of the government, advocacy groups, academia, or conservation and development partners such as USAID SIBOL. These issues also affect businesses, livelihoods, communities, and ordinary people,” USAID SIBOL Chief of Party Ernesto S. Guiang said.

“That is why we are grateful for this partnership with MPTC as it speaks of the goodwill of the private sector in collaborating with other stakeholders and taking tangible steps to promote environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and climate resiliency in the Philippines,” he added.

MPT South is a unit of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., the toll road unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Arjay L. Balinbin