THE Court of Appeals has issued a ruling supporting Taguig City’s control over the 729-hectare Fort Andres Bonifacio, which is popularly known as ‘‘The Fort” or “Fort Boni.’’
In a resolution dated March 8, 2017, the court’s former Special Sixth Division granted Taguig City’s motion seeking to dismiss the Makati City government’s plea to overturn the July 8, 2011 order of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City.
The Pasig RTC had stopped the Makati City government from exercising jurisdiction over The Fort.
But Makati City spokesman Arthur Carmiña insisted that the court did not rule that Taguig is the rightful owner of BGC.
“The Court of Appeals did not rule that Taguig is the rightful owner of BGC. That point needs to be emphasized. Based on the merits, the Court has ruled that Makati, not Taguig, is the rightful owner of BGC,” Carmiña said.
“The case was dismissed on a technical ground of forum shopping committed by the previous lawyers of Makati. But the order of dismissal by the CA is in conflict with the Decision of the Supreme Court that merely ordered the previous lawyers of Makati to pay a fine and not to dismiss the case. Makati will exhaust all legal remedies to protect its territorial jurisdiction,” he added.
In July 2013, the appellate court’s Sixth Division granted the appeal of the Makati City government over the July 8, 2011 order of the Pasig RTC.
The appellate court ordered the Taguig City government to stop exercising jurisdiction over several areas within Fort Bonifacio which were earlier declared part of its territory.
These areas include the so-called military villages comprising Cembo, South Cembo, East Rembo, West Rembo, Comembo, Pembo and Pitogo as well as the Inner Fort Barangays (Barangay Post Proper Northside and Barangay Post Proper Southside).
The appellate court also declared as constitutional Presidential Proclamation 2475 issued by the late President Marcos on Jan. 7, 1986 disregarding the claim of Taguig over Fort Bonifacio by stating that the same fell under the jurisdiction of Makati City.
Also declared as valid was Proclamation 518, which modified Proclamation 2475 wherein it said the said tracts of land were situated in Makati although they are parts of Fort Bonifacio.
The Taguig City government earlier sought the dismissal of the appeal filed by the Makati City government before the CA on the ground of forum shopping, but it was denied.
It claimed that the Makati City government filed simultaneous remedies before the Pasig RTC of its July 8, 2011 order and a petition for annulment of the said judgment before the CA.
The issue was brought before the Supreme Court by the Taguig City government.
In a ruling issued last year, the high court’s Second Division granted Taguig’s petition and cited the Makati City government in contempt for forum shopping in its legal tug-of-war with the former over jurisdiction on Fort Bonifacio.
It agreed with petitioner that the Makati City government committed forum shopping when it simultaneously pursued legal remedies before the Pasig City regional trial court and the CA seeking same relief.
On ruling against Makati City, the appellate court held that as a result of the high court’s ruling, it had no other recourse but to dismiss the Makati City government’s appeal on the Pasig RTC’s ruling declaring Taguig as the owner of Fort Boni property.
“However, the Supreme Court has not spoken. Ineluctably, we must adhere. The issue of whether Makati committed willful and deliberate forum shopping in these cases has been finally laid to rest no less than by the Supreme Court,” the CA said.
“In this light, and in the absence of any justification on the part of Makati, this Court cannot but draw the conclusion that Makati’s simultaneous availment of the aforementioned reliefs was not a by-product of mere thoughtfulness or negligence but a willful and deliberate act of forum shopping.”