Pandacan depot’s fate now up to Palace
Lim’s 2nd veto allows Big 3 oil firms to stayBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Groups seeking to shut down the Pandacan oil depot in Manila will now have to bring their clamor straight to Malacañang, after Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim vetoed for the second time an ordinance that would lead to the facility’s closure.
“I am vetoing Ordinance No. 8283 anew … Should the Council disagree with my second veto, the said ordinance, together with this veto message may be forwarded to the President of the Republic of the Philippines for approval or disapproval,” Lim said in his letter dated October 12 addressed to Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and the city councilors.
Lim, who is seeking reelection next year, thumbed down the ordinance that reclassified the area where the depot is located from an industrial to a commercial zone, which would drive out the oil companies operating in the area, namely Pilipinas Shell, Petron Corp. and Chevron Philippines.
Lim argued that “public welfare would suffer [with] a misinformed decision to remove the oil tank farms and refineries without reasonable guidelines to follow, [which] translates to costs that would inevitably reflect in soaring prices of oil.”
The 82-year-old mayor noted that if the purpose of the relocation of the oil depot is to ensure the health, safety and security of the city residents, an inadequately informed judgment on the part of city’s officials might lead to more problems than solutions.
“If protecting the Manileños from uncertain risk of terrorism and/or conflagration would lead to soaring oil prices with a domino effect on the prices of even basic commodities, how are we promoting public welfare?” Lim said.
In September, the city council earlier overruled Lim’s decision to veto Ordinance 8283. The mayor then said he was against the closure for it might be taken “as a sign of political immaturity and would [make] a bad impression [on] businesses and investors who rely on stability and predictability of government actions.”
Under the Section 17 of the Revised Charter of the City of Manila, an ordinance vetoed by the mayor for the second time shall be forwarded to the President for his approval or disapproval, which shall be final.
The so-called Big 3 oil firms have since been under pressure to move their depot operations out of the densely populated area due to safety concerns raised by various cause-oriented groups and the Church.
Pandacan is considered the largest and most important depot in the country, supplying 70 percent of the needs of the country’s shipping industry; 90 percent of the transport sector’s lubricant requirements; 75 percent of all aviation fuel needs; and 25 percent of the demand for chemicals.
Chevron manager for policy, government and public affairs Raissa Bautista said the company appreciated Lim’s second veto, saying “this action boosts investor confidence especially among those who have been doing business in the country for some time and have also invested in social investment projects for the host communities.”