‘Big 3’ miss SC deadline for Pandacan exit plan
MANILA, Phlippines—More than a month after the Jan. 15 deadline given to them lapsed, the so-called “Big 3” oil companies have yet to submit their plans for moving out of the Pandacan oil depot in Manila.
Instead, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. has filed a seven-volume motion for reconsideration in the Supreme Court, according to the records of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 39 which received a copy of the petition on Jan. 28.
The lower court has been tasked by the high tribunal to monitor the enforcement of its Nov. 25 ruling ordering Shell, Petron Corp. and Chevron Philippines Inc. (formerly Caltex) to relocate their facilities elsewhere due to the risk posed by the oil depot to the surrounding residential community.
The Manila RTC’s records also showed that Chevron Philippines Inc. earlier asked the Supreme Court to clarify its Nov. 25 ruling.
The Manila City government, for its part, has heard only from Petron and Chevron as it waits for the lower court to give it copies of the oil firms’ relocation plans to oversee their implementation.
“We have a letter from Petron that [it] will comply and that [it] will keep [its] health services open to the residents,” lawyer Donna Gasgonia, senior executive assistant to Mayor Joseph Estrada, told the Inquirer.
Out by July 15
“Chevron ceased operations in May 2014, [it has] stopped using the terminals,” she said, adding, “We haven’t heard from Shell.”
The Inquirer sought a comment from Shell but has yet to receive a reply at press time.
Following the high court’s order, Estrada said the oil companies had until Jan. 15 this year to submit their respective relocation plans and implement these within six months.
“By July 15, the Pandacan oil depot should be gone,” he said in a press conference in December.
The Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice (AESJ), meanwhile, will hold a campaign to educate “a handful of residents” who are against the oil depot transfer.
“There are a handful of people, especially barangay chairmen, who resist the transfer,” Tony Santos, president of AESJ, told the Inquirer in a recent phone interview.
Residents also fear eviction
“Maybe they think only the oil companies can provide them [community outreach programs]…not realizing that it’s part of corporate social responsibility and tax deductions,” Santos said.
In previous Inquirer interviews, some Pandacan residents said they were also afraid of being evicted from the area.
They cited livelihood training seminars and gift packs from the oil companies as they downplayed security concerns, saying no major disaster has happened in Pandacan.
“There is no more argument whether it’s safe or not safe. The mere fact that the Supreme Court decided that [the oil companies] should relocate, that should be implemented,” Santos said.
Aside from legal points, the civil society group will also discuss the health and cultural aspects of the continued stay of the oil storage facility, he added.
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