SC: Pandacan oil depot must go
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the relocation of the Pandacan oil depot as it declared unconstitutional a Manila ordinance that allowed the oil storage facilities to remain.
Voting 10-2, the high court ordered Chevron Philippines Inc., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Petron Corp. to submit within 45 days before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 39 an updated comprehensive plan and relocation schedule.
Following the submission of documents, the “Big 3” oil companies have six months to remove their oil storage facilities.
“Relocation shall be deemed completed not later than six months from the date the required documents were submitted. The presiding judge of Branch 39 shall monitor the strict enforcement of this decision,” the Supreme Court said.
The high court also ordered Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to cease and desist from enforcing Ordinance No. 8187 and coordinate with appropriate government agencies in overseeing the relocation and transfer of the oil terminals out of Pandacan area.
The high court echoed its decision in affirming Manila Ordinance 8027 where it cited that the continued stay of the oil depots placed the residents of Manila in danger of being a terrorist target. Ordinance 8027, approved in 2001, pushes for the removal of the depot in Manila.
Ordinance 8187 was passed in 2009 during the term of Mayor Alfredo Lim. In 2012, the City Council approved Ordinance 8283 to boot out the oil depot, which Lim vetoed.
The Supreme Court order stemmed from the 2009 petition filed by Social Justice Society (SJS) led by lawyer Samson Alcantara to nullify Ordinance 8187.
The SJS said in its petition that the Manila City Council can only legislate to promote the general welfare of its inhabitants.
They pointed out that the depots store millions of liters of flammable and volatile substances including aviation fuel.
“Undoubtedly, they are a magnet for attacks by terrorists. The conflagration triggered in the depot by a terrorist attack would result in deaths and destruction that would dwarf the New York Sept. 11 and Mumbai bombings,” SJS said.
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