Columns Provinces

THE OUTSIDER (Melandrew T. Velasco): SMC-PLEX, a game changer infra project in Pangasinan

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 last week between the Pangasinan government led by Gov. Ramon Guico III and San Miguel Corporation 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: 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 up 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 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 – 5th 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.