These Heritage Sites Could Be Affected by PAREX, Says Urban Architect
Buildings and structures that are at least 50 years old are automatically considered “Important Cultural Property,” according to the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. A number of such structures, including buildings, bridges, and houses are located very close to the proposed Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) that will be built by the Philippine National Construction Corporation and San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMC).
Renowned landscape architect, environmental planner, and urban designer Paulo Alcazaren took to social media to bring attention to heritage sites that could be affected by the construction of PAREX.
“Shall we trade heritage for vehicular infrastructure?” Alcazaren asked as he showed a graphic bearing the locations of the heritage sites.
“Here are the heritage sites and structures (all over 50 years old) that will be affected by PAREX's first segment from R-10 (Del Pan). These are protected by The National Cultural Heritage Act. The graphic is based on the PAREX's alignment per their presentation to the media,” wrote Alcazaren.
The heritage sites close to the route of PAREX are Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Francisco, Jones Bridge, Quezon Bridge, Manila Central Post Office, and Maestranza Wall, among others.
Arroceros Forest Park Could Be in Danger
In a separate post, Alcazaren revealed how PAREX could damage Arroceros Forest Park, a site whose history dates all the way back to the 1500s. It is an exceedingly rich archaeological site that is now the location of a small forest considered “The Last Lung of Manila.”
“SMC claims that the average width of the Pasig River where the PAREX will pass is 200 meters. Checking with Google Earth... the widths of the sections of the river where it will pass are only between 60-100 meters,” explains Alcazaren.
“SMC also claims the PAREX will only eat up one meter of the space of the river. This is impossible in many sections because of existing buildings or other infrastructure. At the Arroceros Forest Park, does this mean that close to half of the 8,000 plants and mature trees and space for 10 bird species in the park will be sacrificed for PAREX? MRT 7 required the loss of 1,858 trees along its route. How many will be lost for PAREX's 16-kilometer length?”
Below is Alcazaren’s Google Earth screenshot of Arroceros Forest Park overlaid with the possible route of PAREX shown in black.
Ramon Ang Addresses Criticisms Against PAREX
Among the groups opposing the construction of PAREX are environmental advocates, saying the river’s ecosystem would be affected.
Addressing criticisms claiming PAREX would kill the Pasig River, Ramon Ang, the CEO and president of San Miguel Corporation, did not mince words when he described the Pasig River as “long-dead.”
“There are those who only cry for the long-dead Pasig river to be ‘saved’ now—after being indifferent to it and our many other rivers that have suffered the same fate, for so many decades,” said Ang in a statement.
“SMC has the capability, resources, and engineering talent to clean-up, rehabilitate, and take care of the river for the long-term, even as we will rely on it to help solve our cities’ many problems… All these at no cost to taxpayers and government,” he added.
In a statement, Ang said, “This is a private investment. We will spend our own money, so we will not build something that will not be beneficial to the public.”
“We are not the type of people who will build something that will be bad for the public, the environment, and our country, for the sake of profits. In fact, we are investing a lot of money and other resources for these projects, even if the returns will take a while —because our country needs them,” he said.
Pressure on Architect Palaflox to Drop PAREX
Rappler reported that according to Ang, there were forces exerting pressure on renowned architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. to drop the project, although Palaflox had yet to sign a deal with SMC.
“There is no formal engagement with Architect Palafox, but we have been in discussion, something that we have been very clear from the start—that we want him to help us do PAREX right,” Ang told Rappler.
“We've come to learn from him...that forces critical of the project have been exerting pressure on him, his associates, and his family to drop the project. We believe this is part of an orchestrated and continuing demolition job to paint the project as the opposite of what it truly is,” Ang said.