G.R. No. 187836, March 10, 2015
SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS) OFFICERS, NAMELY, SAMSON S. ALCANTARA, AND VLADIMIR ALARIQUE T. CABIGAO, Petitioners, v. ALFREDO S. LIM, IN HIS CAPACITY AS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF MANILA, Respondent.
[G.R. No. 187916]
JOSE L. ATIENZA, JR., BIENVINIDO M. ABANTE, MA. LOURDES M. ISIP-GARCIA, RAFAEL P. BORROMEO JOCELYN DAWIS-ASUNCION, MINORS MARIAN REGINA B. TARAN, MACAILA RICCI B. TARAN, RICHARD KENNETH B. TARAN, REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY THEIR PARENTS RICHARD AND MARITES TARAN, MINORS CZARINA ALYSANDRA C. RAMOS, CEZARAH ADRIANNA C. RAMOS, AND CRISTEN AIDAN C. RAMOS REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY THEIR MOTHER DONNA C. RAMOS, MINORS JAZMIN SYLLITA T. VILA AND ANTONIO T. CRUZ IV, REPRESENTED AND JOINED BY THEIR MOTHER MAUREEN C. TOLENTINO, Petitioners, v. MAYOR ALFREDO S. LIM, VICE MAYOR FRANCISCO DOMAGOSO, COUNCILORS ARLENE W. KOA, MOISES T. LIM, JESUS FAJARDO LOUISITO N. CHUA, VICTORIANO A. MELENDEZ, JOHN MARVIN C. NIETO, ROLANDO M. VALERIANO, RAYMUNDO R. YUPANGCO, EDWARD VP MACEDA, RODERICK D. VALBUENA, JOSEFINA M. SISCAR, SALVADOR PHILLIP H. LACUNA, LUCIANO M. VELOSO, CARLO V. LOPEZ, ERNESTO F. RIVERA,1 DANILO VICTOR H. LACUNA, JR., ERNESTO G. ISIP, HONEY H. LACUNA-PANGAN, ERNESTO M. DIONISO, JR. AND ERICK IAN O. NIEVA, Respondents.
CHEVRON PHILIPPINES INC., PETRON CORPORATION AND PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM CORPORATION, Intervenors.
R E S O L U T I O N
[T]he intervenors Chevron Philippines, Inc., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, and Petron Corporation shall, within a non-extendible period of forty-five (45) days, submit to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, Manila an updated comprehensive plan and relocation schedule, which relocation shall be completed not later than six (6) months from the date the required documents are submitted. The presiding judge of Branch 39 shall monitor the strict enforcement of this Decision.3Now before us are the following submissions of the intervenor oil companies, to wit: (1) Motion for Reconsideration4 of the Decision dated 25 November 2014 filed by intervenor Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (Shell); (2) Motion for Clarification5 filed by intervenor Chevron Philippines, Inc. (Chevron); and (3) Manifestation of Understanding of the Dispositive Portion of the Decision of 15 December 20146 (the correct date of promulgation is 25 November 2014) filed by intervenor Petron Corporation (Petron).
The filing of a motion for reconsideration, authorized by Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, does not impose on the Court the obligation to deal individually and specifically with the grounds relied upon therefor, in much the same way that the Court does in its judgment or final order as regards the issues raised and submitted for decision. This would be a useless formality or ritual invariably involving merely a reiteration of the reasons already set forth in the judgment or final order for rejecting the arguments advanced by the movant; and it would be a needless act, too, with respect to issues raised for the first time, these being, as above stated, deemed waived because not asserted at the first opportunity. It suffices for the Court to deal generally and summarily with the motion for reconsideration, and merely state a legal ground for its denial (Sec. 14, Art. VIII, Constitution); i.e., the motion contains merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted to and pronounced without merit by the Court in its judgment, or the basic issues have already been passed upon, or the motion discloses no substantial argument or cogent reason to warrant reconsideration or modification of the judgment or final order; or the arguments in the motion are too unsubstantial to require consideration, etc.9
2. At the outset, CHEVRON respectfully manifests that it has already completed the relocation of its depot and terminal operations from the Pandacan area, as it ceased using the Pandacan terminals for its fuel and lubricants operations last June 2014. CHEVRON currently has zero volume of lubricants and fuel products for commercial use stored at the Pandacan terminals and the supply requirements of its customers are being withdrawn from the other supply facilities available to CHEVRON.With the withdrawal of its products from the Pandacan terminals yet with the continued operation of the PDSI, Chevron now pleads that this Court review and clarify a portion of the Decision concerning what it understands as an unqualified statement that “all oil depots, in general, even those outside of Pandacan, have no place in any densely populated area.”12 The exact wordings in the Decision sought to be clarified read:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
3. While CHEVRON has ceased using the Pandacan terminals, it continues to be a shareholder as well as hold a governance role in Pandacan Depot Services Inc. (“PDSI”), the operator of the Pandacan terminals for fuels products operations. PDSI is an incorporated joint venture established pursuant to the joint venture agreements between CHEVRON, Petron and PSPC. Notwithstanding CHEVRON’s ceasing to use the facility, Petron and PSPC continue to use the Pandacan terminals for their own commercial fuel and lubricant operation. This joint venture continues to exist until terminated and dissolved by the mutual agreement of CHEVRON, Petron, and PSP or as provided for in the agreements of the parties.11
Even assuming that the respondents and intervenors were correct, the very nature of the depots where millions of liters of highly flammable and highly volatile products [are stored], regardless of whether or not the composition may cause explosions, has no place in a densely populated area. Surely, any untoward incident in the oil depots, be it related to terrorism of whatever origin or otherwise, would definitely cause not only destruction to properties within and among the neighboring communities but certainly mass deaths and injuries.13Stressing that a judgment should be confined to the lis mota of the case, Chevron posits that the paragraph sought to be clarified was a sweeping and categorical pronouncement sans factual basis or evidence against all oil depots inasmuch as the prevailing circumstances, types of products stored or the safety measures in place vary from one depot to another. If such is left as is, it claims that it would be tantamount to interference with the policy making of the political departments of the government.
For, given that the threat sought to be prevented may strike at one point or another, no matter how remote it is as perceived by one or some, we cannot allow the right to life to be dependent on the unlikelihood of an event. Statistics and theories of probability have no place in situations where the very life of not just an individual but of residents of big neighborhoods is at stake.16Moreover, the Decision should be taken as a whole and considered in its entirety. The Decision is clear – it is the City’s Ordinance No. 8187 that has been declared unconstitutional and invalid insofar as the continued stay of the Pandacan Oil Terminals is concerned.
x x x The repealing clause of Ordinance No. 8119 cannot be taken to indicate the legislative intent to repeal all prior inconsistent laws on the subject matter, including Ordinance No. 8027, a special enactment, since the aforequoted minutes (an official record of the discussions in the Sanggunian) actually indicated the clear intent to preserve the provisions of Ordinance No. 8027.At first blush, the clause “cease and desist” appears to specifically refer only to the operations, considering that Sec. 3 of Ordinance No. 8027 provides for a period of six (6) months from the date of its effectivity “within which to cease and desist from the operations of businesses.”20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
To summarize, the conflict between the two ordinances is more apparent than real. The two ordinances can be reconciled. Ordinance No. 8027 is applicable to the area particularly described therein whereas Ordinance No. 8119 is applicable to the entire City of Manila.19
2. Without prejudice to its position in the instant case as elucidated in its Memorandum, Petron files this Manifestation to inform this Honorable Court that in accordance with its agreement with and to honor its commitment to the City of Manila, Petron has decided to cease operation of its petroleum product storage facilities in Pandacan, Manila within five (5) years or not later than January 2016 for the following reasons, x x x.22 (Emphasis in the Manifestation of Understanding x x x)Let Petron be reminded that the Court did not, by noting its “Manifestation” dated 30 November 2010, consent to consider January 2016 as a separate deadline for compliance with our Decision, which, to repeat, includes the removal of facilities after cessation of operations. The timelines prescribed in the assailed Decision shall be observed to the letter.
The denial of a motion for reconsideration signifies that the grounds relied upon have been found, upon due deliberation, to be without merit, as not being of sufficient weight to warrant a modification of the judgment or final order. It means not only that the grounds relied upon are lacking in merit but also that any other, not so raised, is deemed waived and may no longer be set up in a subsequent motion or application to overturn the judgment; and this is true, whatever may be the title given to such motion or application, whether it be “second motion for reconsideration” or “motion for clarification” or “plea for due process” or “prayer for a second look,” or “motion to defer, or set aside, entry of judgment,” or x x x, etc..24 (Emphasis supplied)This Resolution is final. Under pain of contempt, no further pleadings, motions or papers in the guise of the above-enumerated submissions shall, thus, be entertained in these cases.
1 In a Resolution dated 21 July 2009, the Court granted the motion to drop respondent Ernesto Rivera as a party-respondent on the ground that he actually voted against the enactment of the assailed ordinance. Rollo in G.R. No. 187916, Vol. I, (no proper pagination, should be pp. 148-149).
2Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. VI, pp. 3147-3210.
3Id. at 3208-3209.
4Rollo in G.R. No. 187916, Vol. XI, pp. 5789-5924.
5Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. XVI, pp. 8929-8939.
6Id. at 8921-8928.
7Rollo in G.R. No. 187916, Vol. XI, pp. 5798-5801.; Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of 25 November 2014.
8 324 Phil. 483 (1996).
9Id. at 491-492.
10Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. XVI, pp. 8929-8939.
11Id. at 8930.
12Id. at 8930; Motion for Clarification filed on 5 January 2015.
13Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. VI, p. 3202.
14 In the Resolution dated 13 February 2008 in G.R. No. 156052, the Court also revisited the history of the Pandacan terminals. It wrote:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x. The U.S. Army burned unused petroleum, causing a frightening conflagration. Historian Nick Joaquin recounted the events as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryAfter the USAFFE evacuated the City late in December 1941, all army fuel storage dumps were set on fire. The flames spread, enveloping the City in smoke, setting even the rivers ablaze, endangering bridges and all riverside buildings. … For one week longer, the “open city” blazed—a cloud of smoke by day, a pillar of fire by night. (Social Justice Society, et al. v. Hon. Atienza, Jr., 568 Phil. 658, 674 )15Id.
16Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. VI, p. 3203.
17Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. XVI, pp. 8921-8928.
18Id. at 8922.
19Social Justice Society v. Hon. Atienza, Jr., supra note 14 at 698.
20Rollo in G.R. No. 187916, Vol. I, p. 76; Ordinance No. 8027.
21Social Justice Society v. Mayor Atienza, Jr., 526 Phil. 485, 490 (2007).
The Decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryMeanwhile, petitioners filed this original action for mandamus on December 4, 2002 praying that Mayor Atienza be compelled to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 and order the immediate removal of the terminals of the oil companies. (Emphasis supplied)22Rollo in G.R. No. 187836, Vol. XVI, pp. 8922-8923; Manifestation of Understanding of the Dispositive Portion of the Decision of 15 December 2014.
23Supra note 7.
24Id. at 492.