Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Supreme Court Reads Philippine Commentary?

Last October, I published the Google Map below showing the Pandacan Oil Depot in the middle of the city of Manila and in the vicinity of Malacanang Palace. Today, I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court has ordered the closure of this disaster waiting to happen, saying,
Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted right after the Philippines, along with the rest of the world, witnessed the horror of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of Manila from the catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack[25] on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason exists why such a protective measure should be delayed.
Congratulations to the Social Justice Society for suing Manila Mayor Lito Atienza over the matter and who is now being investigated by the Ombudsman for not carrying out the ordinance and getting rid of the giant incendiary-explosive device that is the Pandacan Oil Depot while granting the Big 3 oligopoly that controls the depot here extension after extension to delay the long-overdue transfer. He's no Rudy Giuliani, that's for sure!


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This live Google Map contains several high value terrorist targets in the middle of the City of Manila. (All the PAN and ZOOM controls work, so have a better look around while you can.) Shown at the center of the Map is Pandacan Oil Depot on both banks of the Pasig River, which snakes its oily green way horizontally across the map. Observe the numerous oil and gasoline storage tanks (each of the round white objects contains tens of thousands of liter of oil or fuel. To get an idea how big each storage tank is, compare the width of each one to the four lane Nagtahan bridge which you can see nearby by panning to the left. Immediately west of the bridge, on both sides of the river, are the MALACANANG PRESIDENTIAL PALACE grounds. Immediately north of the bridge, you will see the LRT-2 Light Railway Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) which carries thousands of passengers daily. One of the trains is visible after pulling out of a nearby train station. Boarding passengers, usually only the women, have their handbags checked by poking a small wooden stick into them. And of course all around this highly combustible situation are slums, ghettos, businesses, homes and markets. But it isn't like this is some kind of secret. The continued existence of the Pandacan Oil Depot, is a major, tragic disaster waiting to happen.

20 comments:

manuelbuencamino said...

"He's no Rudy Giulliani"

Yjay's about the only good thing anyone can say about Atienxa.

baycas said...

too bad, you can only zoom in by two clicks...

i could've sworn i've seen a speck of the QUEEN of PANDACan walking in the palace grounds.

no MOA yet in this map?

Jego said...

Are you also in favor of moving the NAIA because of the high value terrorist targets in the middle of the cities of Pasay and Paranaque? They have huge jet fuel tanks there too. Not to mention a large number of people.

Rizalist said...

Jego,
I am in favor of fortifying the security of all the airports and seaports. In the case of NAIA, some studies point to its vulnerability to attack with shoulder fired weapons from all the squatter colonies that surround the airport. I am certainly in favor of moving those squatters out of there and rezoning the area around the airport.

We clearly have to prioritize all these hardening steps as there clearly are practical issues that won't easily go away. Which I think is your point.

But is the difficulty of achieving human security a reason for us to just wring our hands and do nothing?

I am sure you are not suggesting that. But that does seem to be the attitude of many. Because they don't believe we have a terrorism problem at all.

They think by getting rid of Gloria all these problems will go away. They are dead wrong!

Jego said...

Yes, Rizalist, that was my point: If we start moving facilities because we consider them high-value targets for terrorists--which do exist, no question--why stop with Pandacan?

If the terrorists are determined to hit them, they'll probably hit them no matter where they are. I guess Im saying that we shouldnt allow these terrorists to disrupt our lives and have us live in fear.

Rizalist said...

Why stop at Pandacan indeed? But I never said we should move everything around and run away from the terrorists. It was the Manila City Council that determined the Pandacan Oil Depot doesn't belong there because of the obvious danger to masses of people should the depot be attacked.

You are the folks saying the Human Security Law is going to disrupt our lives and have us live in fear. That's nuts! Laws against murder and robbery can certainly be abused also by the authorities. Should we repeal such laws because they can be abused? Of course not. Likewise, I am not saying we ought to act out of fear or disruption in order to protect ourselves. You are right. Terrorists will do whatever their evil selves cause them to do. But when they do, we want the The law to be there to prevent or punish them.

Hey but it is still a free country. You can work with Atienza and the oil companies to keep the depot right where it is. I'm just agreeing with the Supreme Court.

Jego said...

You are the folks saying the Human Security Law is going to disrupt our lives and have us live in fear.

Nope. You probably mistook me for someone else, Rizalist. We're talking Pandacan here not the Human Security Law so I dont know where that conclusion came from. Is there another Jego posting here? If there is, I'd be glad to change the nickname.

There's no question that an attack on the Pandacan depot would be catastrophic. I agree that it is probably best to move the thing. Like you said, the supreme court said the ordinance should be enforced. But there's this feeling of capitulation about it that Im not comfortable with. Perhaps you are comfortable with the disruption the threat of an attack foments but I dont like it, the same way Im uncomfortable when our government has to pay a ransom for kidnap victims of the abu sayyaf.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Dean,

Re In the case of NAIA, some studies point to its vulnerability to attack with shoulder fired weapons from all the squatter colonies that surround the airport.

The first and most important thing to do is to install proper airport radars and modern airport paraphernalia in NAIA.

The airport is operating almost blind.

That should be the priority.

Former CSAFP Benjie Defensor of course if absolutely right that it is imperative to protect the airport zone but a modern, adequate, proper radar is already a first step towards protection.

Your biggest problem today is not necessarily some guys getting hold of stingers or any of the missiles I sold to RP but to give your guys in the control tower some form of EYES.

For the moment, RP is blind - utterly, effing dangerously blind.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Btw Dean,

Here's something that could help (from UK Defence News):

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/PeopleInDefence/KandaharAirBaseKeepingAnEyeOnTheBigPicturepart3Of3.htm

People In Defence

Kandahar Air Base: keeping an eye on the big picture (Part 3 of 3)
8 Mar 07
In the third of a series of stories from Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, here we feature the Tactical Imagery Squadron.

Kandahar Air Base: keeping it safe (Part 1 of 3)
Kandahar Air Base: bombed up and ready to go (Part 2 of 3)

Rizalist said...

Jego,
Hehe, sorry about the confusion. But there is something not quite right about "capitulation" because terrorists are not demanding we move the depot. They would want it right there.

Rizalist said...

HB,
Thanks for that UK link. NAIA is probably going to be the real target. We have to expect that with the new anti-terror law the "argument" has to be made that it has caused some new terror attack. And that is something the NPA or JI or both will probably want to do.

Jon Mariano said...

Capitulation or not, having these installations in the middle of densely populated areas is not a good idea. As mentioned in this post, it's just disaster waiting to happen even without the terrorists.

The right thing to do therefore is to move them to better locations.

Can you imagine for example that Indonesian plain landing and exploding in EDSA?

Jon Mariano said...

sorry, should be "plane"

Jego said...

But there is something not quite right about "capitulation" because terrorists are not demanding we move the depot. They would want it right there.

Yes, but we are moving it because of them, Rizalist. Like I said it's probably best, but still...

It's been there for a long time and we're moving it because we're afraid of terrorists and that doesnt feel right. The Supreme Court even cited 9/11 which doesnt sit well with me at all. The SC shouldnt show fear in the face of terrorism, IMO. They should just have ruled on the Ordinance's legality.

(Is it private property, BTW? Or is it just leased from the city?)

Rizalist said...

The reason it ought to be moved is because it cannot be adequately defended, not because we are "afraid" of terrorists. The latter is a strawman argument.

I suppose I have to criticize the definition in the anti terror law for that because it inspires the making of such strawman arguments.

But it is just about as fallacious as Neri Colmenares saying that the law does not apply to suicide bombers that walk into a resto and blow themselves up because they did not make a written or spoken terrorist demand before doing so.

How can moving the depot be capitulation to terrorists when it is precisely to thwart their aims, not to give in to them that we are taking such protective measures. It is the security of human beings that we seek to defend, not their right to make threats.

It is not a sign of fear but a sign of strength that we would shoulder the inconvenience of moving the depot.

Jego said...

Whatever the reason--fear, impotence--the reason was terrorists.

"Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted right after the Philippines, along with the rest of the world, witnessed the horror of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of Manila from the catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack[25] on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason exists why such a protective measure should be delayed."

The ordinance is legal, according to the SC, and should be enforced. No argument there. I agree wholeheartedly. But the reason is: terrorists. "No reason exists why such a protective measure should be delayed." IMO, this terror thing should not even be in the decision. The SC justices arent supposed to be security experts. They shouldve just said: The Ordinance is in order. Enforce it.

By your reckoning, it was a sign of strength for the government to have postponed the ASEAN summit last November because of alleged threat of terrorist attack? They could not secure the summit, so they postponed it to January. (I dont know if it were indeed the reason. But just in case it were, would you still see it as strength on their part?)

Rizalist said...

Jego,
We ought not to eviscerate humanity from the Law, for that would be like removing morality from religion, or love from poetry. Definitely terrorism was the reason for the ordinance, just like terrorism is the reason for the anti-terrorism law, or murder the reason for the laws that proscribed Cain's predilection.

By your reckoning we ought not to do anything because of terrorists for that would be a sign of "capitulation" or "fear".

Perhaps it is because you do not believe terrorism is a special problem and think, quite erroneously in my opinion, that we have already done all we can to solve it with ordinary laws and precautions.

That does not mean peoples and governments do not FEAR terrorism. They do. But that is part of what terrorists want to happen, to intimidate and paralyze us into inaction. Just before they introduce us to their favorite deity, the Grim Reaper.

By strength I mean the resolve to introduce them to OUR deities, Truth and Justice!

Jon Mariano said...

I agree, it's like not wanting to wear condoms to prove we're not afraid of AIDS. It might not be the most appropriate analogy, but it does drive home the point.

Jego said...

We ought not to eviscerate humanity from the Law, for that would be like removing morality from religion, or love from poetry.
True. I wholeheartedly agree. But this is the Supreme Court, man. One of our guardians. To see it say something like, "Let's get out of here as soon as we possibly can because the terrorists are coming..." It pains me.

By your reckoning we ought not to do anything because of terrorists for that would be a sign of "capitulation" or "fear
By my reckoning we ought to do something about terrorists, but not out of fear. I'll use a corny and archaic word: We ought to do something out of righteousness.

Perhaps it is because you do not believe terrorism is a special problem and think...that we have already done all we can to solve it with ordinary laws and precautions.
Im on planet Earth just like you and I believe terrorism is real and it is 'special'. Pandacan is a 'strategic retreat' but a retreat nevertheless. Youre for relocating the people around NAIA. Why wouldnt such a relocation work for the people around Pandacan? Of course the point is moot because of the SC decision, but if there werent an SC decision, you would still move Pandacan because of terrorists?

But that is part of what terrorists want to happen, to intimidate and paralyze us into inaction.
And intimidate us into retreat.

By strength I mean the resolve to introduce them to OUR deities, Truth and Justice!
Amen. I would pray for the dead terrorist but my heart won't bleed for him.

Thanks, DJB.

(Haha, Jon Mariano. Condoms and driving home the point. Good one.)

Rizalist said...

Jego,
You better be careful...you've been reading too much Philippine Commentary that I feel like I'm shadow boxing. hehe!