Pasig River Expressway still a go — toll regulator 

SAN MIGUEL CORP.’s (SMC) announcement that it is abandoning the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project is not considered official as the company has not given notice to regulators, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) said.

“Technically, it is still on the table because they have not given the confirmation that they are terminating the contract or the project,” TRB Executive Director Alvin A. Carullo told reporters last week.

SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang said in March that the company will no longer pursue the project.

The TRB wrote SMC to confirm its announcement but the company has yet to respond , Mr. Carullo said.

“As to the Pasig River Expressway, the last update is that we wrote SMC Infrastructure on the reported withdrawal or abandonment of the project. Up to this time, we have not received an official communication from SMC,” he said.

Even with the SMC announcement, the TRB cannot terminate the project, which must be initiated by the company.

Under the supplementary toll operation agreement, there will be monetary consequences if the government terminates the project, Mr. Carullo said.

“If they will be the one to unilaterally withdraw, there are no financial obligations but if the government itself will be the one to terminate, there will be legal consequences and that includes monetary consequences,” he added.

In March, Mr. Ang said the company will abandon the proposed PAREX project, citing the public controversy kicked up by the project.

The P95-billion elevated toll road project obtained government approval in 2021.

Last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it will review the project’s environmental impact.

The 19.37-kilometer PAREX has raised concerns about air pollution and the impact on heritage sites. Fears have also been raised about it impeding the river’s role as a waterway.

The official review of the PAREX project is currently on hold as a result of the SMC announcement, Mr. Carullo said.

“At this time (the review) is pending. The PAREX project is already in the final engineering design (FED) stage, but because of recent developments, the Board deferred the deadline of submission of the FED for six months,” he said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose