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What Went Before: Disputes over Fort Bonifacio

Fort Bonifacio, now a rapidly growing business center, has been the subject of territorial disputes for several years.

The US government, which acquired Fort McKinley in 1902, turned it over to the Philippine government in 1949 and was renamed Fort Bonifacio.

In July 1957, President Carlos Garcia issued Proclamation No. 423 reserving parcels of land in Pasig, Taguig, Parañaque, Rizal and Pasay for a military reservation.

In 1992, President Corazon Aquino approved Republic Act No. 7227 that created the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). Under RA 7227, part of the proceeds from the sale of Fort Bonficio should be used for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

President Fidel Ramos later issued Executive Order No. 40 that put under the BCDA 240 hectares of Fort Bonifacio, then described as located at Taguig.

In 1995, the Metro Pacific Consortium won the right to develop Fort Bonifacio after submitting the highest bid of more than P33,000 per square meter.

A controlling interest in Fort Bonifacio Development Corp., developer of Bonifacio Global City, was transferred to Ayala Land Inc. and Evergreen Holdings Inc. after acquisition from Metro Pacific Corp. in 2003.

Taguig filed in 1993 a petition in the Pasig Regional Trial Court asking the court to define its territorial boundaries. The petition sought to declare unconstitutional Presidential Proclamation Nos. 2475 and 518, which transferred to Makati certain parts of Fort Bonifacio that were allegedly within Taguig boundaries.

For its part, Makati has argued that Fort Bonifacio had been under the city’s jurisdiction since the Spanish era. It also cited censuses from 1948 to 1980 mapping these areas as part of Makati.

In 1996, Makati filed a complaint in the Makati RTC, asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Taguig from “requiring and accepting payment of real estate taxes and other taxes or fees” and asking BCDA and Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. to stop paying taxes to Taguig.

The Makati RTC dismissed the case in 1998, saying the petition violated the prohibition against forum shopping, which exists when a final judgment in one case will affect the other case filed in a separate court.

In January 2012, Pasig City RTC Branch 153 Judge Leili Cruz Suarez issued a decision upholding the territorial jurisdiction of Taguig City over Fort Bonifacio and several Makati barangays (villages).

Suarez’s ruling put under Taguig’s jurisdiction the Bonifacio Global City complex and portions of Fort Bonifacio that included the Philippine Army and Marines headquarters, and Libingan ng mga Bayani. It also put Barangays Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo, Comembo, Pembo and Pitogo under Taguig jurisdiction.

In issuing the ruling, Suarez upheld a ruling handed down by Judge Briccio Ygaña, who retired in July 2011.

The Makati City government has appealed the ruling.

Aside from Makati, the municipality of Pateros has likewise filed a civil case in a Taguig RTC seeking to reclaim a 461.56-ha area in Fort Bonifacio from Taguig. The petition also asked Makati and Taguig to return revenues they had collected over the years.

In its petition, Pateros claimed that Fort Bonifacio had been under its control since 1801, when Fort Bonifacio and the seven barangays were collectively called Barrio Mamancat, then one of Pateros’ five barrios.—Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives, Supreme Court

Related Story:

CA rules Makati City, not Taguig, has jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio

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Tags: court , Fort Bonifacio , Laws , Makati , Pateros , Taguig , territorial disputes

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