DEPARTMEMT of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, assured motorists and other users of the country’s expressways that they need not worry about paying increased toll fees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tugade made the assurance after the signing of the Supplemental Toll Operations Agreement (STOA) for the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) between the DOTr and the San Miguel Corporation.
Tugade said that while he understands the clamor of tollway operators for increases in toll rates to generate needed revenue to sustain their operations, he also stressed that the DOTr, through the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) must uphold and protect the interest of the public, especially with pandemic’s economic effects.
“Nakikita natin ‘yung pangangailangan ng operators ng increases na ‘yan nang sa ganon, ‘yung mga funding requirements nila ay maasikaso. Pero kailangan din ‘ho ng tulong sa sambayanan, lalo’t higit tayo ay nasa pandemyang nangyayari ngayon,” said Secretary Tugade.
“We need to strike a good balance. Yung pangangailangan ng mga investors, ‘yung mga kakayanan ng publiko. Kailangan ‘ho ibalanse yan,” the Secretary added.
According to Tugade, considering the conditions imposed by the pandemic, the DOTr may approve toll rate hikes, but such will definitely be implemented at a later date.
“Are we expecting increases at this time? Kung ako ‘ho ang masusunod, maaaring apruban ‘yung increase, pero ‘wag i-implement ngayon. Pagka’t kailangang balansihin ‘yung pangangailangan ng publiko sa pangangailangan ng mga negosyante,” Tugade said.
A 19.4-kilometer, 6-lane elevated expressway to be built along the banks of the Pasig River, PAREX will connect the Radial Road-10 in Manila, EDSA, and C5, and will decongest traffic volume in Rizal, Cainta, and Marikina. It is also set to provide a faster and alternative access to Makati, Ortigas, and the Bonifacio Global City.
Signing the STOA were Secretary Tugade, San Miguel President and COO Ramon Ang, TRB Executive Director Alvin Carullo, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Cathy Cabral, and Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) Assistant Vice President for Legal Affairs Henry Salazar.