It is “premature” for Taguig City to celebrate a recent decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) on Makati City’s territorial jurisdiction over Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a Makati official said on Friday.
Michael Arthur Camiña, city legal officer and spokesman, said there is no basis for Taguig officials to claim that the recent decision of the CA “effectively hands over BGC to Taguig.”
“The Court of Appeals did not rule that Taguig is the rightful owner of BGC. The dismissal of Makati’s appeal was based on a technicality and did not overturn its earlier decision upholding Makati as the rightful owner of the disputed territory,” he added.
The Court of Appeals’ Sixth Division, in its ruling dated July 30, 2013, upheld Makati’s jurisdiction over the more than 729-hectare portion of Fort Bonifacio.
It ordered Taguig “to immediately cease and desist from exercising jurisdiction within the disputed area and return the same to Makati,” after noting that Taguig failed to present evidence to support its claim.
“The last CA decision expressly granted Makati jurisdiction over BGC based on historical facts and evidence. To nullify that ruling based on mere technicality is robbing the Makatizens of what is rightfully theirs,” Camiña said.
The official pointed out that the order of dismissal by the CA is in conflict with the decision of the Supreme Court that merely ordered the previous lawyers for Makati City to pay a fine.
“The Supreme Court ruling penalized previous Makati lawyers for forum shopping. It did not order the reversal of the CA’s 2013 ruling in favor of Makati,” Camiña said.
In its 37-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, the appellate court dismissed Taguig’s complaint filed against Makati in 1993 in a Pasig Regional Trial Court for “lack of merit” and confirmed that the disputed area covering some nine barangay (villages) are “within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City.”
The 2013 CA ruling lifted a preliminary injunction issued by the lower court in July 1994 that earlier prevented Makati from exercising jurisdiction over the villages of Post Proper Northside and Post Proper Southside, which are located in the so-called Inner Fort area of the former military camp.
Aside from the two barangay, the disputed area also covers portions of the villages of Cembo, South Cembo, East Rembo, West Rembo, Comembo, Pembo and Pitogo.
Then Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. offered a revenue-sharing arrangement with Taguig under a special administrative body that will govern the Bonifacio Global City area, out of the city’s desire to help the people of Taguig.
“We want to show that this is not about revenues. We simply want to get back what is rightfully ours,” he said.
The mayor also sought to put in place proper governance and ensure the delivery of basic services to the two barangay most affected by the dispute. He noted the plight of residents of Barangays Northside and Southside that have “lagged behind in the delivery of basic services and infrastructure development, in stark contrast with the rapidly expanding skyline of the BGC.”
Taguig officials, however, rejected Makati’s attempts for an amicable resolution to the dispute.
After the issuance of the CA ruling in 2013, a number of incidents were reported involving armed Taguig personnel harassing Makati personnel as the latter tried to resume the delivery of basic services in the two villages.
In its 2013 decision, the CA declared as “constitutional and valid” Presidential Proclamations (PP) 2475 and 518, which reinforced Makati’s ownership of Fort Bonifacio.
Issued by then-President Ferdinand Marcos on January 7, 1986, PP 2475 disregarded the claim of Taguig over Fort Bonifacio, saying this fell under Makati’s jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, PP 518 issued in 1990 by then-President Corazon Aquino reaffirmed that the disputed tracts of land are part of Makati City.