Manila (AsiaNews / CBCP) - The Filipino Catholic Church is appealing to central and local governments to follow up on a recent Supreme Court ruling, which ordered the transfer of the old oil storage in the district of Pandacan, Manila (pictured). Leading the campaign the auxiliary bishop of the capital, Msgr. Broderick Pabillo has said that "as long as it remains in Pandacan," the deposit of crude oil will continue to "endanger the lives of citizens."
The Pandacan oil depot is a terminal for the storage and disposal used by three oil industry giants: Caltex (Chevron Corporation), Petron and Shell. It is located in an area of the capital with a high population density and has a devastating impact on public health. In addition, over the years there have been many accidents, including explosions and spills of fuel in the adjacent Pasig River, the last of which took place last year; many people had to resort to hospitals and medical treatment, suffering from severe breathing problems.
In recent days, the nation's highest judicial body declared as unconstitutional Manila City Ordinance No. 8187, which allowed the continued stay and operation of some giant oil companies in the 33-hectare compound. The courts have reaffirmed the block of operations and the relocation of the plant, which is a major environmental threat. Welcoming the Supreme Court judgment Msgr. Pabillo said he was "happy" and hoped that "is immediately applied." Despite pressure from the oil industry giants, adds the prelate, the judges "were on the people's side".
The bishop, a vocal critic of the Pandacan oil depot, also called on the public to maintain vigilance as to how the oil firms will adhere to the court decision. The court ruling stated that the relocation of the oil depot should be completed no later than a period of six months. No other than Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and his clergy have been pressing for the transfer of the oil depot, saying it poses danger to the health of communities and to the environment.
Moreover, even in the past the Church in the Philippines, and especially the Archdiocese of Manila, has paid much attention to the issues concerning the environment. Last February, the parishes of the capital launched an awareness campaign for the collection and disposal of electronic waste. In Luzon Catholic leaders and NGOs have promoted a common battle to requalify soil contaminated from excavations and explorations.