Pandacan oil depot should be target of Manila Bay clean up, bay fishers say

Pandacan oil depot should be target of Manila Bay clean up, bay fishers say

Members of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the Pandacan oil depot currently hosting the operations of Shell, Petron Corp. and Chevron Philippines should be one of the immediate targets of the ongoing Manila Bay clean up.

“It is time for these untouchables to be removed from their present kingdom in the name of Manila Bay clean up and rehabilitation. If the government is really sincere in bringing the bay back to its pristine and historic past, it will call for the unconditional and immediate dismantling of the Pandacan oil depot,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap lamented that instead of showing the exit way to the oil companies in Pandacan oil depot, the small fisherfolk and the urban poor people are being targeted for eviction and displacement from their main source of livelihood and villages.

The Pamalakaya leader assailed the declaration of experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) clearing the Dutch oil company Shell from the complaints ranged against the oil firms like manipulation of local government, concealment of negotiations and environmental risks and health hazards, and lack of specific plans to mitigate the hazards at the Pandacan oil depot.

The OECD Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) dismissed the complaints submitted by two non-government organizations—one based in Pandacan and another based in The Netherlands in 2006. The NCP, a body which is tasked to assess complaints filed with the OECD, an organization of 30 market democracies.

If the NCP finds a complaint against a company valid, a mediation process will be launched to resolve the problem. In its final report, it says that based on its investigations, Shell in Manila did not violate any environmental or health regulations. It also concluded the oil company was not involved in any form of bribery and corruption to gain improper advantage

According to NCP, Shell interacted appropriately when engaging with local politics and did not intervene inappropriately and it has made efforts to engage the local community through tis website and community information and capacity building programs.

But Pamalakaya theorized that the findings of NCP is totally bias in favor of Shell and other oil companies hosted by the Pandacan depot, and to spare the oil depot from the demands of the communities to be removed from the site in accordance with the high court decision on Manila Bay clean up, which tasked government agencies to remove industries which contribute largely to the deterioration of the bay.

Pamalakaya asserted the bulk of pollution and water wastes from oil companies in Pandacan depot comprise 60 percent of pollution entering Manila Bay through the Pasig River. Another 15 percent of the pollution that gets into Manila Bay comes from Pampanga River, which the group said, is colonized by big and small polluting factories.

The Pandacan oil depot supplies 50 percent of the country’s total demand for fuel, 100 percent of the lubricant requirements and 45 percent of chemical needs nationwide. The depot also serves the fuel requirements of vital industries such as transport, manufacturing, shipping and power generation. #

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