BAGUIO CITY—The Supreme Court has ruled that the 729-hectare Bonifacio Global City complex and several other barangays in Makati actually belong to Taguig City.
In a 53-page decision penned by Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario, the SC’s Third Division reinstated the July 8, 2011 decision issued by the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City which affirmed the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling in 2017.
The Court also made permanent the writ of preliminary injunction issued on August 2, 1994 by the Pasig RTC enjoining the Makati City government “from exercising jurisdiction over, making improvements on, or otherwise treating as part of its territory” Parcels 3 and 4, Psu 2031, comprising Fort Bonifacio, including the so-called Inner Fort comprising of Barangays Pembo, Comembo, Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo and Pitogo.
The Philippine Army headquarters, Navy installation, Marines’ headquarters, Consular area, Jusmag area, Heritage Park, Libingan ng mga Bayani, AFP Officers Village and the so-called six villages are situated in the said areas.
“Considering the historical evidence adduced, cadastral surveys submitted, and the contemporaneous acts of lawful authorities, we find that Taguig presented evidence that is more convincing and worthier of belief than proffered by Makati. Consequently, we rule that Taguig has a superior claim to the disputed areas,” the SC said in denying the petition filed by the Makati City government seeking reversal of the Court of Appeals decision which denied its appeal to reverse the Pasig RTC ruling on the ground of forum shopping.
In its petition for certiorari before the SC, the Makati City government argued that the CA, in dismissing its appeal on the ground of forum shopping, deviated from well-settled jurisprudence giving primacy to substantial justice over rules of procedure, especially in important cases.
Makati asserted that Presidential Proclamation Nos. 2475 and 518 are constitutional.
It said these proclamations did not alter boundaries but merely confirmed that the disputed areas are under Makati’s jurisdiction.
The Pasig RTC declared unconstitutional Presidential Proclamations No. 2475, Series of 1986 and No. 518, Series of 1990, for altering the boundaries of Taguig without the benefit of a plebiscite.
However, the High Court amended the Pasig RTC ruling, as it decided not to rule on the constitutionality of the said proclamations
“Taguig claims that Presidential Proclamation Nos. 2475, 2. 1986, and 518 series 1990 violate this constitutional guarantee when they altered Taguig’s boundaries without complying with the plebiscite requirement,” the SC said.
“We note, however, that both the assailed proclamations did not expressly alter Taguig’s boundaries. Rather, they merely opened disposition on certain portions of the military reservation covered by Proclamation No. 423, series of 1975 and amendments thereto. The assailed proclamations’ only error lies in the declarations that the disputed areas are within the jurisdiction of Makati,” it added.
“We thus reiterate our policy of constitutional avoidance, that is, if the controversy on the constitutionality of a statute can be settled on other grounds, this Court stays its hand from ruling on the constitutional issue,” the SC said.
It stressed that its decision resolved the boundary dispute without resorting to constitutional adjudication of the assailed proclamations.
Likewise, the SC said it cannot rule on the constitutionality of the proclamations, considering that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) did not enter its appearance on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines in the petition.