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Palafox: I have not signed a contract with SMC for PAREx

/ 04:02 AM September 28, 2021

Famed architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox on Monday distanced himself from the controversial Pasig River Expressway (PAREx) of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), saying he has yet to review the plans for the mega infrastructure project.

Palafox made the comments nearly a week after being named by SMC president Ramon S. Ang as a prospective consultant for the 19.4-kilometer toll road that would rise along the banks of the Pasig River.

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The P95-billion project, which had a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Friday, has alarmed environmental and conservation advocates and even staffers within Palafox’s eponymous company, Palafox Associates, one of the country’s most respected green urban planners.

Palafox said he has not signed any contract to become a project consultant, explaining he was approached by Ang last May to “introduce green architectural and urban features” to the PAREx, whose detailed engineering studies were still underway.

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“I don’t know why there’s so much toxic anger against me. I have not signed any contract. I told them, let me see the plans,” he told the Inquirer on Monday, referring to his talks with SMC.

In fact, Palafox said he was prepared to drop discussions “if it violates my principles.”

“That is why I walk away from projects, if there is corruption or if it violates the environment,” he added.

Unjust criticism

He also said the criticism targeting him and his company were unjust and detractors should seek answers from planners and engineers of SMC and government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local governments whose municipalities straddle the Pasig river.

Asked about opposition to the project within Palafox Associates, he said there were some staffers against the project but not all or most of them.

‘Mixed feelings’

Palafox said he was a systems thinker, along with many of his employees, who views problems comprehensively.

Still, he admitted to having “mixed feelings” about the project.

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“I’m not endorsing it with my limited knowledge of the project. I have not seen the plans, designs and feasibility studies,” he said, adding that he needed two weeks to a month to review the PAREx proposal.

Palafox, who in the past had spoken at length about the need to restore Pasig River’s historic place as a crucial waterway in Metro Manila, said his views have not changed.

But he was also a firm believer of establishing a strong east to west link given worsening congestion in Metro Manila.

He said one of his previous proposals was to establish a water ferry system to connect cities and communities along Laguna Lake, Pasig River, San Juan River, Marikina River and Manila Bay.

Palafox said he also admired Ang’s vision and philanthropy in cleaning up the Pasig River and nearby waterways.

“We have 180 polluted rivers among more than 400 rivers. Ramon Ang is like the lone ranger cleaning up the Pasig River and Tullahan River,” he said. INQ

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TAGS: Business, Felino “Jun” Palafox, Palafox, PAREx
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