Manila council: Oil depot must go by 2016

Posted at 08/29/12 6:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Pandacan oil depot will have to relocate on or before January 2016, based on an ordinance approved yesterday by the Manila City Council.

Approved on third and final reading was Ordinance 7461 entitled “An Ordinance Amending Section 2 of Ordinance No. 8187 by Reclassifying The Area Where Petroleum Refineries And Oil Depots Are Located From Heavy Industrial (I-3) to High Intensity Commercial/Mixed Use Zone (C3/MXD).”

Councilor Jong Isip, the Manila City Council’s spokesman, said the council unanimously voted to approve the ordinance.

“Owners or operators of petroleum refineries and oil depots, the operation of which are no longer permitted under Section 1, are hereby given a period until the end of January 2016 within which to relocate the operation of their businesses,” Section 2 of the ordinance read.

The country’s three biggest oil firms – Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Chevron – are the users of the depot.

Councilor Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion is the principal author of the ordinance. The other authors are councilors Dennis Alcoreza, Irma Alfonso-Juson, Numero Lim, Edward Tan, Ruben Buenaventura, Joel Chua, Ma. Asuncion Fugoso, Don Juan Bagatsing, Jocelyn Quintos, Richard Ibay, Cristina Isip, Elizabeth Rivera, Casimiro Sison, Edward Maceda, and Marlon Lacson.

Minority council members Mon Morales, Josie Siscar, Rod Lacsamana, Lou Veloso, Eduardo Quintos, Bobby Lim and Eunice Castro also voted for the ordinance.

Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who presides over the council, also approved the ordinance.

In Section 1, Section 2 of Ordinance No. 8187 shall be amended to read as follows: “The land use where the existing industries are located, the operation of which are permitted under Section 1 hereof, are hereby classified as Industrial Zone except the area where petroleum refineries and oil depots are located, which shall be classified as High Intensity Commercial/Mixed Use Zone (C3/MXD),” the ordinance stated.

Section 3 states that the City Planning and Development Office shall prepare an amended zoning map and zoning boundaries, which shall be submitted to the City Council for review.

The ordinance takes effect 15 days after its publication in a major daily.

Mayor Alfredo Lim needs to sign the ordinance before it can be implemented.

On Feb. 13, 2008, the Supreme Court ordered the so-called Big 3 oil firms to submit to the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 39 a comprehensive plan and schedule for relocation.

The Supreme Court’s order was signed by then Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

The Supreme Court (SC), in its 56-page resolution, said that while the oil firms were essentially fighting for their right to the property, the right to life and property of residents around the depot should take precedence.

The SC said “without a doubt, there are no impediments to the enforcement and implementation of the relocation” and that “any delay is unfair to the inhabitants of the City of Manila and its leaders who have categorically expressed their desire for the relocation of the terminals.”

“Their power to chart and control their own destiny and preserve their lives and safety should not be curtailed by the intervenors’ warnings of doomsday scenarios and threats of economic disorder if the ordinance is enforced,” the high court stated.

The SC cited that the oil companies still were unable to allay the apprehensions of the city regarding security threat in the area in general.

“No specific action plan or security measures were presented that would prevent a possible large-scale terrorist or malicious attack especially an attack aimed at Malacañang,” the court said.

The measures set in place by the oil firms were more internal in nature and did not include the prevention of an external attack, the SC said.

“It is not enough for the city government to be told by these oil companies that they have the most sophisticated fire-fighting equipment and have invested millions of pesos for these equipment,” the court said.

“The city government wants to be assured that its residents are safe at any time from these installations, and in the three public hearings and in their position papers, not one statement has been said that indeed the absolute safety of the residents from the hazards posed by these installations is assured,” the SC said.

“Now that they are being compelled to discontinue their operations in the Pandacan Terminals, they cannot feign unreadiness, considering that they had years to prepare for this eventuality,” the SC said.

In January 2008, a defective tanker containing 2,000 liters of gasoline and 14,000 liters of diesel exploded outside the depot, killing one person and causing extensive damage.