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Aileen Suzara, FACES
US State Department Gets It Wrong on Chevron’s Operations in the Philippines
SAN FRANCISCO - October 22 - Chevron Corporation's recent nomination to the State Department's annual Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) for its Philippine-based operations was met with opposition from US and Philippine environmentalists. In response to the nomination, FACES sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the State Department to rescind the nomination.
"Communities are suffering from Chevron's toxic emissions, catastrophic spills, leakages, and the risk of fires and explosions," said Mari Rose Taruc, FACES Chevron Campaign Coordinator. "Nomination to the ACE award ignores Chevron's negative impacts on the health of communities in the Philippines and around the world where they operate."
FACES open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted Chevron's toxic operations in the Philippines. "Chevron Philippines is no corporation to be proud of, not by the US or the Philippines. A little corporate donation to a local project does not replace the many lives lost or harmed due to their toxic operations in the fenceline communities of the Manila oil depots, as well as around the world where they operate," said the letter.
Philippine civil society and environmental groups have campaigned for years for the relocation of the massive Chevron oil depot out of Pandacan, a residential district in Metro Manila. An estimated 83,000 residents are directly impacted by the depot. Accidental spills, leakages and fires have overwhelmed the community over the years. A study conducted by Global Community Monitor in 2002 detected high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen and component of gasoline, in the air around Pandacan.
Yet despite opposition from the community and Church leaders, public health concerns, numerous ordinances, and a 2007 Supreme Court decision that ordered Chevron to relocate their depot for the "protection of the residents of Manila from catastrophic devastation," Chevron has continued to stall out this order.
"We are asking for relocation of the depot to an area with a proper buffer zone, away from the nearest communities. This is a holocaust waiting to happen," said leaders of Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice (AESJ). AESJ is among the Manila-based groups currently leading a campaign to relocate the depot.