• Oil depot gets the boot

    The Pandacan oil depot

    The Pandacan oil depot

    The country’s oil majors were not slick enough after all.

    This failing came up after the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday junked an appeal filed by the so-called “Big 3” and upheld its ruling ordering the transfer and relocation of the Pandacan oil depot.

    Three of the country’s oil giants–Petron, Chevron and Pilipinas Shell–had sought a reversal of a High Court ruling that declared Manila City Ordinance 8187 unconstitutional.

    The city ordinance, which was passed during the term of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, allowed the continued stay of the oil depot.

    The SC ordered Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada not to implement the city ordinance and instead directed him to oversee dismantling of the storage facility.

    The case was filed by a group led by lawyer Vladimir Cabigao and the late Samson Alcantara of the Social Justice Society (now Abakada Guro party-list group), along with former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and former Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante.

    Deliberating en banc and voting 11-2, the SC stood pat on its November ruling.

    In its November decision, it said the oil depot must go as it violates “the right to health and the right to a healthful and balanced environment.”

    The SC also ordered the oil companies to submit a comprehensive relocation plan to the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 39.

    Tuesday’s ruling also denied Chevron’s motion for clarification, which sought an extension of the January deadline for submission of the relocation plan and schedule.

    Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez, the case ponente, remained firm on his position to have the oil depot evicted from Pandacan, an old middle to low class residential enclave by the Pasig River.

    According to the SC, the “current petitions sought to annul Ordinance No. 8187 which allowed the continued stay of the oil depot, supposedly for being contrary to the provisions in Ordinance No. 8027 and also for being in violation of the right to health and the right to a healthful and balanced environment.”

    The High Court said the continued stay of the oil depot has placed the residents in danger of being a terrorist target.

    Bad faith
    City Ordinance 8027 reclassifies portions of the Manila districts of Pandacan and Santa Ana from industrial to commercial and directs certain business owners and operators, including Chevron, Petron and Pilipinas Shell to stop operating their businesses.

    Ordinance 8187 was passed in 2009 as an amended Ordinance 8027.

    The petitioners argued that Ordinance 8187 “was made in bad taste and bad faith” because the local government is supposed to enact laws that will promote “proper sanitation and safety” and the “general welfare of the city and its inhabitants” under Article III Section 18 of the Revised Manila Charter.

    The group noted that the SC itself has already established the facts that the oil depot in Pandacan stores 313.5 million liters of highly flammable and highly volatile products, which include petroleum gas, aviation fuel, diesel, gasoline, kerosene and fuel oil.

    Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno again welcomed the SC decision.

    Moreno said he sees no further hindrance to the court’s decision since most if not all of the oil firms operating in Pandacan have gradually moved out of the area as early as last year.

    “We in the City Council will support whatever plans they have in the area [as]this will definitely boost the city’s growth and development.”

    Moreno said this will put an end to a long legal battle and while the city recognizes the contribution that the oil depot has made to the city, the safety and welfare of the people of Pandacan and its neighboring areas cannot be compromised and is the paramount concern of the city government.


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