While so much was going for the past few weeks or so, the Urban Roamer feels so ashamed to miss this news item that came out on April 3. My apologies for the oversight.
That piece of news concerned about a new development in the continuing saga of the Pandacan Oil Depots as former president turned Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada issued an ultimatum to the 3 oil companies (namely Shell, Chevron, and Petron) who have operations in the district that they only have until January 31, 2016 to move out their operations there or else the city government will do the shutting down for them.
This was in compliance of a Supreme Court decision that was made years back as well as a recently-passed ordinance, Ordinance 8283, which stressed Pandacan is a “high-density commercial/mixed use zone.” This means, heavy industries like oil depots can no longer operate in the district beyond the above-mentioned date.
As was mentioned earlier, this has been an issue that has gone on for so long. You can check out this timeline provided by Rappler for the history, though the calls for the oil depots to move out have been going on long before that. Residents, environmentalists, and other concerned groups have long been worried of the dangers posed by the presence of these oil depots. On the other hand, the oil companies cited the challenges in relocating their operations with the time, logistics, and the costs that will be involved, though some of them made efforts to scale down their operations.
If history is an indicator, there is the possibility that such moves may not push through at least by 2016. Then again, we are dealing with a figure like Mayor Estrada, who implemented controversial decisions in the city like the bus ban which was later modified and the truck ban. Apart from that concession on the bus ban, he has shown himself as a leader who’s not going to back down easily.
That being said, it will be interesting to see what will happen next. Will the oil companies comply this time or will they try to resist it? Will Manila city government be firm on driving the oil depots out this time or will they peter out eventually? Let’s hope that the people of Pandacan and Manila as a whole will not be the losers in this issue this time around.