THE battle for the municipal jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio has gotten more intense after a lawmaker from Taguig City on Wednesday vowed a united fight against Makati City, which is claiming the bustling business center.
Taguig Rep. Arnel Cerafica (First District) said he is one with his constituents in defending their claim and title over Fort Bonifacio.
“We speak of land which has long been occupied by the Taguigueños, and our forefathers’ wish for their descendants to enjoy. Taguig is united in its goal to restore what is rightfully theirs,” he said.
He added that as a councilor for almost nine years, he has seen Fort Bonifacio transform from a mere grassy field to a bustling center of business and leisure.
The city council, he added, took earnest efforts to ensure that Fort Bonifacio’s potential is maximized.
“In turn, the city was able to provide basic and better services for its people,” he said.
Cerafica said the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) handing municipal control of Fort Bonifacio to Makati is not final and executory.
“The efforts to exercise continuous jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio for the past 10 years and the fight over its claim is not put to an end,” he said.
On August 5, the Court of Appeals’ Sixth Division ruled on the long-running territorial dispute between the two cities, upholding Makati’s jurisdiction over the more than 729-hectare portion of the prime property.
The court ordered Taguig “to immediately cease and desist from exercising jurisdiction within the disputed area and return the same to Makati,” noting that Taguig failed to present evidence to support its claim.
Taguig initiated the dispute in 1993 when it filed a case before the Pasig Regional Trial Court, which issued an injunction in July 1994 preventing Makati from taking over the area.
On Wednesday, Taguig filed a motion seeking the immediate inhibition of Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison because of her husband’s close ties with Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was a former mayor of Makati.
It was Sison who penned the decision upholding Makati’s claim on Fort Bonifacio.
“Circumstances show that Honorable Marlene Gonzales-Sison, the ponente in the captioned case, does not seem to possess the cold neutrality to fairly and impartially resolve the issues involving the territorial dispute between the City of Taguig and defendant-appellant City of Makati,” the motion said.
It pointed out that Sison is married to lawyer Casimiro “Cassy” Sison, a “known stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which is a coalition of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) headed by former President and now Mayor of the City of Manila Joseph E. Estrada and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay.”
The motion took note of media reports that Makati Mayor Junjun Binay continues to discuss the territorial dispute with his father who, during his time as the local chief executive of Makati, fought for the ownership of the disputed territory.
Justices Hakim Abdulwahid and Edwin Sorongon concurred with Sison.
The appeals court declared Presidential Proclamation No. 2475 and Proclamation No. 518 as constitutional and valid. These laws pertain to the transfer to the Makati of certain parts of Fort Bonifacio that were allegedly within the boundary of Taguig, despite the absence of authority on the part of the President and without the benefit of a plebiscite.
According to the Appellate tribunal, Taguig failed to mention that the Embo Barangays, as well as the Inner Fort barangays were already in existence prior to Republic Act No. 3590.