Christine Cordero’s Testimony to Chevron Representatives

Last year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the communities in Pandacan, Philippines, who live in the shadow of the depots owned by you, Chevron, Shell, and Petron. The most striking person I met was a young woman named Robbie-Lynn. Robbie-Lynn’s six-month-old baby has asthma and wheezes more when she takes him outside, when he breathes the air around the oil depot. I remember his face, and thinking a six-month-old baby shouldn’t wheeze like that. I come here today to talk to you about Robbie-Lynn, about her baby, about her community. I’ve come here today to say that the actual health of Chevron rests not in your bottom line, but within the hearts, lungs, and bodies of the people it leaves in its wake.

Chevron is sick.

In the Philippines, the depot threatens human health, continues to operate in violation of the highest law of the land, and it is high time Chevron listen to the voice of the people.

The depot sits in the heart of Metro Manila and 82,000 residents. People share walls with the depot, and across the river 40,000 students attend classes at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Communities living close to the depot have elevated levels of chronic disease. The supposed “buffer” protecting the communities from depot hazards is a mere 15 meters. In this buffer is a park in which children walk and play, and that you, Shell, and Petron called a gift. There are constant accidents, spills and leaks – days when people cannot cook because there is so much gas in the air.

Chevron is sick.

In 2007, the Philippine Supreme Court, the highest law of the land, affirmed the right to life over the right to property. Since then the Supreme Court has affirmed their decision TWICE, and called for the removal of the oil depot. Recently, May 7, 2009, the oil companies forced the Supreme Court to sit “en banc,” with all Supreme Court judges ruling. The Supreme Court upheld their original decision and denied any further appeals. And yet, Chevron along with the other two companies, have used their significant resources to propose a city ordinance to upend the Supreme Court decision, opening up ALL of Manila to industry, allowing the depots to stay. Despite the Supreme Courts constant affirmation of their decisions, you refuse to leave. The highest law says the depot must go. You must go.

Chevron is sick.

Despite these new challenges, there are more and more people joining together. The community is organized and growing and continue to fight for their right to life. Schools, churches, environmental, and community organizations demand the closure of the hazardous depot. Even the Archbishop of Manila supports relocation of the depot. The people who live around the depot want to be healthy. They want Chevron to be a healthy ally and truly invest in clean energy solutions. The will of the people is to have the opportunity to live lives free of the dangers and health effects of the oil depots. Will you listen or remain as you are?

Chevron is sick.

The people’s lives and health are endangered everyday living next to Chevron.

Listen to the law of the land and STOP trying to circumvent it.

Listen to the will of the people. Get healthy. Be healthy.

Until the shareholders and leadership of Chevron do so, Chevron will remain sick.

As Pandacan resident Sixto Carlos says “We will not give up this fight as long as the oil depot is there.” As shareholders, you have the power to make Chevron the healthy company it can and needs to be. The remedy must come from within.