SMC-PLEX, a game changer infra project in Pangasinan

By Melandrew T. Velasco

PANGASINAN, the third largest province in the Philippines, received a major boost recently from San Miguel Corporation Infrastructure with the signing of a joint venture agreement for an expressway project costing P34 billion.

Being a native son of Pangasinan, I am delighted to learn of the good news that a joint venture agreement for the 76.80-km Pangasinan Link Expressway (PLEX) project was signed recently between the Pangasinan government led by Gov. Ramon Guico III and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and CEO Ramon S. Ang.

“This project will bridge the east and west corridors of the province, reflecting our commitment to enhancing regional connectivity. By catalyzing growth beyond Metro Manila, we are paving the way for broader opportunities for our fellow kababayan in the provinces. Thank you Governor Guico and the Pangasinan provincial team for helping make this vision a reality,” said RSA at the project launch.

In his speech, Ang cited Pangasinan as a great province in the entire Luzon as he mentioned other SMC business interests and projects in the province, namely the San Roque Multi Purpose Dam which they plan to expand to become a pump hydro producing 1,600 megawatt power; the construction of train terminal in San Fabian or Sual; and the construction of the integrated mega poultry factory in Sison.

If he were still around, the late former President Fidel V. Ramos, also a native son of Pangasinan, would have been the first to do the thumbs sign for RSA’s latest caper for the province whom he described as a visionary, a patriot and strategic thinker. To FVR’s credit, it was during the Ramos presidency when two flagship projects were made possible – the 435 MW San Roque Multi Purpose Dam providing also irrigation, flood control and improvement of water quality; and, the 1,200 MW Power Station, the largest and cost effective coal-fired power station in the Philippines – both now being managed by SMC.

On several occasions, I had the rare privilege to be with FVR and RSA at the former’s RPDEV office in Makati in the presence of former MWSS Chairman/Administrator Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco and some other Pangasinan boys like Engr. Fred Reyes, Gen. Wilson Victorio and sportsman Freddie Jalasco.

I vividly recall FVR saying this to RSA before the group: “Don Ramon, continue being a nation builder. You are a silent patriot who has built, is building, and will build important infrastructures so that many Filipinos will have better quality of life, at no cost to the government, no guarantees and no subsidies from the government. You have a grasp of what it means to be maka-Diyos, maka-Tao, maka-Kalikasan and maka-Bansa.”

It is heartening to know that the young and energetic provincial leaders, Governor Mon Mon and Vice Governor Mark, are taking the lead to leapfrog Pangasinan into a real investment hub in Northern Luzon. I only met Gov Mon on several occasions through his late cousin Benjie Guico Gotoc and Vice Gov Mark with his wife Atty. Melanie at MWSS. I have been blessed to have worked with their respective fathers – Fifth District Congressman Monching Guico and former CEZA Chief Atty. Raul Lambino – as well as other eminent Pangasinan leaders in the past as I shared every Pangasinense’s dream of a progressive province in the Northern Luzon Economic Quadrangle.

Governor Guico said the expressway project is a fulfillment of one of his major platforms for the province as he cited House Bill 4126 that he filed in Congress as Representative of the 5th District where he served from 2019 to 2022.

“Today, we actualize the partnership that our province has nurtured and treasured with San Miguel Corporation through the leadership of Dr. Ramon S. Ang,” said Guico.

“PLEX is one of the symbols of our connection and it is dedicated to the more than 3.1 million Pangasinenses who dreamed of the long overdue progress of the province. PLEX is one of the most important game-changers of the provincial administration. Through the PLEX, we shall have a systematized, comprehensive approach in navigating through Pangasinan, creating a new road map.”

For his part, Vice Governor Mark Lambino said the new road project will finally set in motion what so many of us dreamed of – a better and safer road network not only in Pangasinan, but in the entire Ilocos Region. “It also ushers in the birth and development of new growth centers and industries in our area, and the boost and unlocking of the economic potentials for our beloved province,” added Lambino.

Once completed, the expressway will reduce travel time from Binalonan town to the capital town of Pangasinan which is Lingayen, from an hour and 40 minutes to only around 20 to 30 minutes.

Project segments will be from Binalonan to Manaoag, 6.9 km; Manaoag to Calasiao, 11.3 km; Calasiao spur, 2.39 km; and Calasiao to Lingayen, 22.7 km. Aside from improving mobility, PLEX will become a revenue-generating project for Pangasinan.

The Binalonan-Lingayen segment will be the first phase while Lingayen-Alaminos City will be the second phase of the project.

Witnessing the signing were 1st District Congressman Arthur F. Celeste, Sr.; 4th District Congressman Christopher de Venecia, 5th District Congressman Ramon Guico, Jr., ABONO Partylist Representative Robert Raymund “Eskimo” Estrella, former Bayambang Mayor and businessman Cezar T. Quiambao, members of the provincial board, Local Government Unit (LGU) chief executives led by Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil, department heads of the provincial government headed by Provincial Administrator Melicio Patague, line agency representatives, members of the international, national and local media, among others.

Magnayon Pangasinan!

Thank you RSA and SMC Infrastructure!

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(The author is a prolific book writer and publisher of coffee-table books with a least 40 titles to his name.  He is the president of Media Touchstone Ventures, Inc. He is also the president and executive director of the Million Trees Foundation Inc, a non-government outfit advocating tree planting and watershed protection.)


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