San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have completed the 89.21-km Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway (TPLEX) despite the roadblocks they have encountered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening of the remaining 11-kilometer segment will improve travel to and from Northern Luzon provinces and eventually contribute to the economy significantly.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang and the DPWH led the opening ceremony of the final section will further reduce travel time from Tarlac to Rosario to just one hour from three-and-a-half hours, and Metro Manila-to-Baguio from six hours to just three-and-a-half hours.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez, National Action Plan Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer secretary Vince Dizon, Congressman Ramon Guico, Congresswoman Sandra Eriguel, Governor Pacoy Ortega III and Governor Amado Espino III also attended the event.
Faced with a global pandemic that has also affected our economy and the livelihoods of many Filipinos, we at San Miguel Corporation remain committed to continuing our investments in growth-generating and job-creating projects that will help build the resilience of our people,” said Ramon S. Ang, president of SMC, the parent company of SMC Infrastructure which built and operates the TPLEX.
“Because of the political will of President Rodrigo Duterte, the hard work and follow-through of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, and of the support of government’s entire economic team, we could complete this major project that will benefit so many regions in Luzon,” Ang added.
Ang reiterated that the completion of TPLEX is part of SMC’s commitment to boost the economy, led by Secretary Dominguez, the government’s economic team. The company will also continue investing in other major infrastructure projects.
“The economy ground to a halt because of the pandemic, and among the most affected were our farmers and small businesses such as restaurants, hotels, stores that also rely on tourism. By not scaling back on investments in infrastructure, we will create more jobs, keep the flow of goods and services moving, and pave the way for more local tourism for the long-term,” he added.
Villar expressed his thanks to SMC for its dedication to finishing TPLEX. The completion of the expressway is important in bringing tourism and trade back to Central and Northern Luzon.
“We may open this last section of the TPLEX during a time of national crisis, but this symbolizes our hope for a better future ahead. This engineering marvel showcases the capability and talent of Filipinos, and shows how we can all work together to achieve something great for the common good,” Villar said.
“Our recovery as a nation cannot wait. We have to start now, and I would like to assure the public that President Duterte, along with the entire Build Build Build team, continues to work with utmost urgency on these projects, which I hope will form the foundation of a new phase of growth for our country,” Villar added.
TPLEX now has ten interchanges and 11 toll plazas in total:
SMC added the Sison exit in Pangasinan to the original alignment to help locals and is on its way to completion.
The company also received proposals to extend the TPLEX from Rosario, La Union to San Juan, La Union earlier, as its beaches are local tourism hot spots. The proposed extension comprises a 59 kilometers four-lane addition to the TPLEX project.
“Our next goal now is to extend TPLEX all the way to San Juan. We look forward to the continued support of our national and local governments for this project, which will bring even more growth to the region,” Ang said.
Since the lockdown in March, Ang has led SMC at the forefront of private-sector efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping to boost government response, provide life-saving medical equipment and supplies to front liners, and donate food and disinfectant alcohol to disadvantaged communities, SMC has spent over P13 billion in mitigating the impact of this crisis on the public and the medical sector.
SMC is including public health capacity, workplace condition and safety, the agriculture sector, and infrastructure reinforcements as their major priorities in the coming months as they continue their contributions towards the recovery of the economy.
Besides the completed Pozzurubio-Rosario TPLEX section, the company stated that a new unit of Masinloc Power Plant, Skyway 3, Skyway Extension, Skyway 4, and MRT-7 are also underway in the coming months.
SMC is also pushing through a P735-billion Manila International Airport (MIA) plan in Bulakan, Bulacan. In solving congestion problems at the NAIA, the project in development will increase the country’s competitiveness as a tourist and investment destination, and produce over a million direct and indirect jobs throughout Bulacan, neighboring Luzon provinces, and nationwide.
On top of all this, SMC also announced its commitment to complete its ongoing capacity expansion program for its food and beverage businesses, which will further create more jobs in various regions nationwide.