SC rules in favor of Taguig in Fort Bonifacio territorial dispute

By Benjamin Pulta

April 27, 2022, 6:35 pm

<p><em>File photo</em></p>

File photo

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled in favor of the City of Taguig in a decades-old territorial dispute against Makati City over vast swaths of prime real estate in Fort Bonifacio.
In a 53-page decision uploaded by the high court on April 27 and written by Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario, the tribunal upheld the decision of the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) on the 729-hectare property which potentially generates billions of pesos in local government revenue.
“Indeed, it was only in 1972, during the administration of President (Ferdinand) Marcos, that Makati was included as a situs of Fort Bonifacio together with Pasig, Taguig, Parañaque, Pasay, and sometimes Pateros. But even the subsequent proclamations did not consistently declare that Fort Bonifacio lies within Makati. Clearly, the greater weight of evidence, consisting in contemporaneous acts of lawful authorities, favor the position of Taguig,” the tribunal said.
The court added, “an appraisal of the issuances and laws pertaining to Fort McKinley and later, Fort Bonifacio, reveals that most refer to the disputed areas as either within the jurisdiction of Taguig or outside the jurisdiction of Makati.”
Taguig based its claim on its existence for over 400 years initially as a pueblo of the province of Manila (now Rizal). 
In 1903, the municipality of Pateros absorbed Taguig and Muntinlupa but in 1905, the municipality of Pateros was changed to Taguig and reacquired its former area and absorbed territories of Pateros and Muntinlupa.
Included in the areas was the large estate named Hacienda Maricaban which fell under the jurisdiction of several towns. 
In 1902, the owner, Dona Dolores vda de Casal, sold a portion to the US government which later turned it into Fort McKinley.
On July 12, 1957, President Carlos P. Garcia issued proclamation No. 423 establishing Fort Bonifacio on what was Fort McKinley, and stated that the military reservation was located in Pasig, Taguig Parañaque, and Pasay but did not state that the military reservation was located in Makati. 
On Jan. 20, 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos issued Special Patent No. 3595 conveying the land in favor of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and special patent 3596 which conveyed parcels of land within Taguig in favor of the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. (FBDC).
The ruling affirmed the Pasig RTC Branch 153's decision on July 8, 2011 that “Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation is confirmed to be part of the City of Taguig”.  
The court also affirmed a 1994 writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Pasig RTC as it enjoined the City of Makati from exercising jurisdiction over making improvements on, or otherwise treating as part of its territory, parcels 3 and 4 comprising Fort Bonifacio.
The SC avoided ruling on one of Taguig’s arguments, particularly its claims that two Presidential Proclamations, No. 2475 and 518 issued in 1986 by President Ferdinand Marcos and 1990 by President Corazon Aquino, violate the constitutional guarantee of self-determination when they altered Taguig’s boundaries without complying with the requirement for a plebiscite by the inhabitants to be affected.
It added the property dispute may be resolved without ruling on the validity of the said proclamations. (PNA)