Lim: Oil firms to stay in Pandacan

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Sep 12 2012 04:39 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 06:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim used his power to veto a recent ordinance passed by the city’s council booting out for the nth time the oil firms’ depot from the Pandacan area.

In a statement sent to the media, Lim said this is to allow the Supreme Court to make a final ruling on the matter.

In a text message, Shell Companies in the Philippines Vice President Roberto Kanapi said: "We welcome the decision of Mayor Lim as we have always maintained that our Pandacan depot operation are safe and secured, compliant with both local and international standards and that public concerns on safety and security have been and are continuously being addressed."

This is not the first time that a resolution on the reclassification of the Pandacan area into a “high intensity commercial or mixed-use zone” was passed.

Lim’s decision is anchored on the recommendation of city legal officer Renato dela Cruz and secretary Rafaelito Garayblas, who noted the “complete turnaround” of the council headed by Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.

The same council passed Ordinance 8187 in March 2009, which maintained that the presence of oil firms in the city would help generate jobs and revenues for the people of Manila.

More than a week ago, however, Ordinance 8283 was passed unanimously by the council.

Dela Cruz said this latest ordinance showed a “volatility in decision making which would cast serious doubt on the ability of its leaders to make firm commitments on the policies they espouse.”

He said Ordinance 8283 did not even specify concrete plans on how Manila would be able to cope with lost revenues.

“This might be taken as a sign of political immaturity and would send a bad impression to businesses and investors who rely on stability and predictability of governmental actions,” he said.

“The ordinance also fails to consider how that abrupt relocation of the oil depot woud impact on the distribution system which would definitely translate to costs that would ultimately be reflected in the price of oil and petroleum products,” dela Cruz added.

Pandacan services the fuel needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The case first started in 2001 when then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza enacted Ordinance 8027, seeking the immediate removal of the oil depots.

This became a subject of dispute before the Supreme Court. In 2009, the high court quashed the last-ditch plea of oil firms to keep their depots there.

The high court noted, however, that the issue pending before them was only on Ordinance 8027. This means that the SC could not stop the council from passing another ordinance to the contrary.

Thus, Ordinance 8187 was filed on March 10, 2009 restoring the city’s original zoning scheme.