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Makati-Taguig turf dispute must stop

August 18, 2023 Mario Fetalino Jr. 382 views

Mario FetalinoIMPLEMENTING the final decision of the Supreme Court on the Makati-Taguig territorial dispute should not cause any confusion

Aside from the fact that the decision itself is clear, unambiguous and self-executing, government agencies can refer to the jurisprudence or earlier decision of the Supreme Court that can serve as a basis or guide on how to execute the transfer of jurisdiction of Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation from Makati to Taguig City

One of the jurisprudence that they can turn to is the case of Camarines Norte v Province of Quezon. In its November 1989 decision, the court ruled on the 67-year territorial dispute between the two provinces, where it held that the nine disputed barangays are well within the jurisdiction of Camarines Norte. The court also cited in contempt the officials of Quezon Province for defying the final ruling.

An in-depth scrutiny would reveal that the two cases have glaring similarities as both of them had reached decades before they were decided with finality. The Taguig-Makati turf war took 30 years before the court decided in favor of Taguig. And akin to what happened on the case of Camarines Norte v Quezon, the local officials of losing party had a hard time accepting the final ruling of the court. Because of defiance, Quezon Governor Eduardo Rodriguez and Calauag Mayor Julio Lim were cited in contempt. The court said, the two officials fully understand the implication of the final and executory decision, but unfortunately, Rodriguez and Lim chose to ignore the ruling. And this exactly is what happening now with Makati City Mayor Abby Binay and other Makati officials

When the SC decided the Camarines Norte case in 1989, there were also delaying tactics on the part of the Quezon LGU which is the same as what Makati is doing now. In 2001, the two provinces went back to the legal battle by filing two different petitions but the justices stood firm and held that “FINIS in a case means END”

“Sadly, it is only Quezon Province and its officials who ignore the finality of the Decision and Resolutions of this Court. Their present petition attempts to re-litigate the same issues judiciously passed upon by this Court with finality. It is but imperative for this Court to write FINIS to these cases. Indeed, every litigation must come to an end; otherwise, it would become even more intolerable than the wrong and injustice it is designed to correct” the court ruling stated.

Now, concerning the Makati-Taguig dispute, the court has clearly stated in its final decision that it had already “put an end to the land dispute between the city governments of Makati and Taguig in connection with the Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation where the Bonifacio Global City Complex is now located. The Court ruled that the disputed properties are within the territorial jurisdiction of Taguig City.”

The court also made it clear in its decision that it will no longer accept any pleadings, motions, letters or any type of communication regarding the case because an entry of judgment has already been made.

The decision of the Supreme Court is “part of the law of the land” so the posture and the principle that the court has established in the case of Camarines Norte must be adhered to and should be applied in the case of Taguig and Makati.

The SC clearly stated in its decision on Camarines Norte that the “Respondents (Local officials) owe a special duty faithfully and honestly to comply with final decisions of this Court. It is of essence of an ordered and civilized community that the function of final resolution of disputes be located in a particular institution. In our system, that institution is this Court. Where, as here, there is clear and contumacious defiance of, or refusal to obey this Court’s Decision, we will not hesitate to exercise our inherent power if only to maintain respect to this Court, for without which the administration of justice may falter or fail.”

If Makati would continuously defy and choose not to abide with the court’s final decision, there would be no justice at all.

In fact, scrutinizing the court’s ruling on Camarines Norte would reveal that the high tribunal did not issue a WRIT OF EXECUTION, but the decision was implemented by government agencies including the DILG, Comelec, DOF, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and National Statistics Office (NSO). The court has even commended the government agencies for recognizing the ruling.

The same should also be implemented and carried out on the Makati and Taguig case. Government agencies should proceed with the transfer of jurisdiction of Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation from Makati to Taguig without any further delay. Even though it may be hard for Makati to fully-accept the ruling, Makati Mayor Abby Binay who is a lawyer herself and the entire Makati LGU fully understand that the decision is already final and executory. They should not sow any confusion or turn a blind eye because the case has already been concluded.

In a civilized and democratic society like the Philippines, there is a reason why the courts exist — to interpret and apply the law, and above all to uphold justice and maintain orderliness.

The Taguig-Makati turf war should be put to an end and should no longer be dragged further to avoid confusion and tension among the residents.

In fact, the DILG and Comelec are now doing a great job, amidst the approaching barangay elections in October where 10 barangays will vote under Taguig.