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SC: FPIC can resume Black Oil Pipeline operations


The Supreme Court (SC) said the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) can resume operations of its Black Oil Pipeline (BOPL) which was closed down in November last year. The SC issued last year a writ of kalikasan and a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) that mandated FPIC to stop the operations of the White Oil Pipeline (WOPL) of the FPIC, but the Lopez-owned company assumed that the BOPL is also covered by the order. "The Court hereby clarifies and confirms that that is covered by he November 19, 2010 Writ of Kalikasan and TEPO is only the WOPL System of the FPIC. Consequently, the FPIC can resume operation of its BOPL System," the SC said in a resolution issued on May 31. The closure order of the SC in November last year covered both of FPIC's pipelines. The SC's directive stems from the the letter of Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug Jr., who sought clarification on the coverage of the writ of kalikasan. The SC is handling the writ of kalikasan (environment) petition filed by West Tower residents last November. The writ of kalikasan — the first of its kind in the world — is a remedial measure that may be granted by the courts, upon the request of a person or a group of people whose constitutional right to a healthy environment is violated, to compel another party to stop the alleged violation. The WOPL, which extends 117 kilometers from Batangas province to Manila's Pandacan district, is the one that leaked near the West Tower Condominium in Makati City. On the other hand, the BOPL extends 105 kilometers and transports bunker fuel to an oil depot in Sucat, Parañaque City. Submission of documents Meanwhile, in the same resolution, the SC ordered the FPIC to submit to engineering experts the documents about the fuel pipeline that caused the temporary closure of the nearby West Tower condominium. The SC gave weight to the request of the University of the Philippines Institute of Civil Engineering, which was tapped to determine the structural integrity of the faulty pipeline. "Finding the request of the UP Institute of Civil Engineering to be meritorious, FPIC is hereby directed to submit documents regarding testing protocols it has undertaken to check for leaks and the structural integrity of the [pipeline], the results thereof and other related proposals it has committed to undertake to the the UP Institute of Civil Engineering within five days from notice," said the resolution. The UP institute was likewise ordered to submit to the SC its report within one week after receiving FPIC's documents. The SC's TEPO likewise mandated the Lopez-owned company to check the pipeline's structural integrity. However, before doing so, FPIC asked the SC to lift the order for 48 hours so it can conduct the test. The SC then directed the parties to tap independent experts, such as those from the UP Institute of Civil Engineering, to determine whether the TEPO can be lifted temporarily. - VVP, GMA News
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