TIMELINE: Pandacan oil depot relocation debacle

CONTROVERSIAL DEPOT. Energy officials and oil company workers inspect a biodiesel overhead tank inside the Pandacan Oil depot. File photo by Dennis Sabangan/EPA

CONTROVERSIAL DEPOT. Energy officials and oil company workers inspect a biodiesel overhead tank inside the Pandacan Oil depot.

File photo by Dennis Sabangan/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – On Thursday, April 3, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada gave the oil companies in the Pandacan oil depot until Jan 31, 2016 to shut down their oil storage facilities and relocate to another area.

This effort is the latest in the Pandacan oil depot debacle.

Shell, Caltex (now Chevron), and Petron have oil distribution terminals in the 33-hectare area, supplying the fuel needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Situated along the banks of the Pasig River, the area was tagged as an industrial zone in the 1920s.

After the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, US, the city government saw the need to relocate the oil depot. It poses danger to the residents in nearby communities, as well as to Malacañang Palace – the residence of the President of the Philippines – just a few kilometers away.

Should the oil companies relocate or stay? Here is a timeline of events across 3 city administrations since 2001, all of them relating to the Pandacan oil depot.

Oct 12, 2001 - The 3 oil companies and the Department of Energy (DOE) entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) providing for a formulation of a "master plan" for the relocation of the Pandacan oil terminals.

Nov 28, 2001 - Then Manila mayor Lito Atienza approved City Ordinance No. 8027, reclassifying the land use of the Pandacan oil depot area from Industrial II to Commercial I.

The ordinance also ordered industries and businesses in that area – including the oil companies – to cease and desist operations within 6 months from the effectivity of the ordinance, which was on December 28.

Jun 26, 2002 - With the 6-month deadline looming, the city of Manila and the DOE entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), stating that "the scaling down of the Pandacan [oil depot] terminals [was] the most viable and practicable option."

Among others, it mandated the decommissioning of 28 storage tanks, the establishment of joint operations in the oil depot by the 3 companies, and the creation of "safety buffer and green zones" surrounding the Pandacan terminals.

The city council ratified the MOU through Resolution No. 97, adding that it was effective for only 6 months, starting July 25, 2002.

Jan 30, 2003 - The city council extended the validity of Resolution No. 97 to April 30, 2003. It also authorized Atienza to issue special business permits to the 3 oil companies.

Apr 25, 2003 - Chevron and Shell filed their complaints against Ordinance No. 8027 before a Manila regional trial court (RTC). Both applied for the issuance of writs of preliminary prohibitory injunction and preliminary mandatory injunction.

Petron filed its own petition at a later date, seeking the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or a temporary restraining order.

May 19, 2003 - Acting on Chevron and Shell's petitions, the Manila RTC Branch 39 ordered the city of Manila "to refrain from taking steps to enforce Ordinance No. 8027."

Aug 4, 2004 - Acting on Petron's petition, the Manila RTC Branch 42 enjoined the parties to maintain the status quo.

Jun 16, 2006 - Mayor Atienza approved City Ordinance No. 8119, or the "Manila Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance of 2006."

It reclassified the Pandacan oil depot area into a High Density Residential/Mixed Use Zone, and also designated it as a Planned Unit Development/Overlay Zone.

Buildings or structures not conforming with the area's land use were given a 7-year phase-out and relocation period.

Mar 7, 2007 - The Supreme Court (SC), deciding on the petition for mandamus filed by the Social Justice Society against Mayor Atienza in December 2002, ruled that Atienza should "immediately enforce Ordinance No. 8027."

"The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of Manila from the catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason exists why such a protective measure should be delayed," the SC said.

Jun 30, 2007 - Alfredo Lim assumed office as mayor of Manila. He defeated Atienza's son Ali in the midterm elections.

Feb 13, 2008 - The SC acted on the motions of the 3 oil companies for leave to intervene in the case and for reconsideration of its March 2007 decision.

The SC ruled that Ordinance No. 8027 was valid and constitutional, and there were no impediments to enforce it. The court also said that Ordinance No. 8119 did not repeal the first ordinance.

May 7, 2009 - The SC upheld with finality the implementation of Ordinance No. 8027.

May 28, 2009 - Mayor Alfredo Lim approved City Ordinance No. 8187, which was filed months before the final SC decision. It amended Ordinance No. 8119 and reclassified the Pandacan oil depot into a heavy industrial zone, therefore allowing the stay of the 3 oil companies there.

June 2009 - The Social Justice Society, former mayor Atienza (who was environment secretary at the time), and some Manila councilors filed petitions before the SC to stop the implementation of Ordinance No. 8187.

Jun 30, 2010 - Lim was reelected as mayor of Manila, defeating former mayor Lito Atienza in the previous month's polls.

January 2011 - Petron indicated that it would relocate its Pandacan terminal to another location within 5 years, while saying that Ordinance No. 8187 was valid. Petron president and CEO Ramon Ang affirmed this in April.

August 2012 - The city council enacted City Ordinance No. 8283, amending Ordinance No. 8187, and reverting the area back to its high-density commercial/mixed use zone classification. It also gave the oil companies until January 2016 to relocate their Pandacan terminals.

Sept 11, 2012 - Lim vetoed Ordinance No. 8283. The city council reversed Lim's veto, but the mayor vetoed it again in October, saying that the Pandacan oil depot played "a critical role... in the supply of petroleum products not only in Metro Manila... but the entire country as well."

According to Section 17 of the Charter of the City of Manila, when a mayor vetoes an ordinance for the second time, the ordinance would be forwarded to the President for his approval or disapproval, which would be final.

However, Section 55 of the Local Government Code says that the city council may override the veto of the mayor "by two-thirds vote of all its members, thereby making the ordinance effective even without the approval of the local chief executive concerned."

Jun 30, 2013 - Former president Joseph Estrada assumed office as mayor of Manila. He defeated the reelectionist Lim in the May midterm elections.

Apr 3, 2014 - Mayor Estrada chose to enforce Ordinance No. 8283, and reiterated the Jan 31, 2016 deadline to the oil companies to relocate from the Pandacan oil depot. – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.

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