The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled that the oil depot in Pandacan, Manila, endangers the public and thus they should be relocated.
The High Court, through a vote of 10-2, ordered Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to oversee the transfer of the depot.
In the decision written by Associate Justice Jose Perez, the tribunal ruled that Manila City Ordinance 8187, which was approved during the time of Mayor Alfredo Lim and which allowed the continued stay of the oil depot, is unconstitutional and invalid.
“The incumbent mayor of the City of Manila is hereby ordered to cease and desist from enforcing Ordinance 8187. In coordination with the appropriate government agencies and the parties hereto involved, he is further ordered to oversee the relocation and transfer of the oil terminals out of the Pandacan area,” the SC said.
The private respondents to the case — Pilipinas Shell, Chevron and Petron — were ordered to submit their comprehensive relocation plan and schedule to the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 39 within 45 days.
The SC said the comprehensive plan and relocation schedule should be completed not
later than six months from the date the required documents were submitted. It added that the presiding judge of Branch 39 shall monitor the enforcement of the High Court’s order.
The SC said the oil depot had to go because it violates “the right to health and the right to a healthful and balanced environment” of the people living near it.
Those who questioned the city ordinance were lawyers Vladimir Cabigao and Samson Alcantara of the Social Justice Society (now Abakada Guro partylist group), Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza and former Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante.
The group noted that the SC itself has already established 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.
Atienza lauded the SC decision.
“We welcome this decision of the Supreme Court and praise its unwavering support of constitutional issues included in ordinance-making,” he said.
The former Manila mayor initiated the removal of the oil depot after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US with the passage of Ordinance 8027, reclassifying the Pandacan area from industrial to commercial, citing the numerous hazards posed by the depot.
“We are very happy that the Supreme Court saw this through, ensuring the protection of thousands of lives and property and upholding the legality and good intentions of our Ordinance 8027,” Atienza said.