The U.S.-based Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES) applauds the recent decision of Manila City Mayor Erap Estrada to reinforce Manila City Ordinance 8283, ordering Caltex, Shell, and Petron to submit to relocation and phase-out of the Pandacan oil depot by January 2016.

Philippine civil society groups have campaigned for over a decade for the relocation of the massive oil depot out of Pandacan, where spills, leakages and fires have overwhelmed the community for years.

The three oil companies have repeatedly delayed and flouted the desires of the community, church leaders, city ordinances, and a 2008 Philippine Supreme Court ruling ordering compliance to relocate the depot. While Petron has recently announced it will move out of the depot by the 2016 deadline, Shell and Caltex have yet to communicate any intentions to relocate.

Mayor Estrada’s decision to uphold ordinance 8283 is a triumph for Manila residents, advocates, and community groups working for public health. FACES lauds the Mayor’s Office for engaging community members through the newly formed Pandacan Oil Depot Monitoring Committee, which will provide a strong platform for citizen involvement in the relocation.

As an organization that includes environmental scientists, engineers, and community activists, FACES urges that closure of the oil depot also involve proper cleanup. FACES urges the inclusion of residents throughout the closure and relocation to ensure economic conversion plans that benefit residents, preserve green spaces, bring new jobs, and protect the environment.

This past week communities across 12 countries including the U.S. and the Philippines held global actions against Chevron corporation (Caltex). In Pandacan, community members marched for the closure, transfer, and relocation of the Pandacan oil depot in an ongoing “Jericho March” action that continues Sunday May 25.

Together with allies in Pandacan, we press the City of Manila and the “Big Three” oil companies for continued cooperation with the Pandacan community in relocation of the oil depots, the discontinuation of the Batangas-Pandacan pipeline operations, and compensation for the victims of the oil depot operations.