MANILA, Philippines—A day after the Court of Appeals sided with Makati city on a two-decade-old dispute with Taguig city over Fort Bonifacio, the former’s local government is already prepping for a “smooth transition.”
“Expect that maybe in two weeks, you will see the presence of Makati there,” Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. said in a press briefing in his office on Tuesday morning.
“We will make our presence felt in the area. We will place our personnel there, then start implementing our laws,” he said, adding that he has been meeting with the Makati assessor, engineer, administrator and some businessmen operating in the two cities.
“There” refers to a territory bordering the two cities, composed of the Embo barangays (villages)—Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo, Comembo, Pembo and Pitogo, and Inner Fort barangays Post Proper Northside and Southside.
The appellate court, in a 37-page promulgation last July 30, confirmed that the disputed areas were within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati, and ordered Taguig to “immediately cease and desist from exercising jurisdiction within the disputed area and return the same to Makati.”
According to Binay, Taguig’s central business district, the glitzy Bonifacio Global City (BGC), is actually located within the Northside and Southside barangays. Taguig has placed BGC under Barangay Fort Bonifacio.
The mayor, claiming he “had no idea” how much in revenues or tax collections or voter population Makati would soon gain, said that “it’s not important.”
“Let’s not forget, we focus too much on BGC, but [Barangays Northside and Southside] still exercise their right of suffrage under the city of Makati. There have been lots of development in the Inner Fort but the periphery was neglected. It is incumbent upon us to ensure basic services are delivered in that area. That area has been neglected for 20 years,” Binay said.
Under the territorial dispute, which started in 1993, Binay said a preliminary injunction was issued against Makati in 1994 from exercising jurisdiction over the Inner Fort. This injunction was also lifted by the CA decision.
“We couldn’t move there because of the injunction, but now it’s been lifted, we can move forward. We really need to fix that place. They were the ones who were most victimized,” Binay said, adding that the Barangays Northside and Southside residents have been suffering from faulty roads, utilities and land distribution.
Binay, however, said that residents should register first with Makati to be able to receive city-ordained benefits.
Pressed by reporters on the issue of revenues, however, Binay said: “We are reserving a separate action to claim what was lost in the span of 20 years. It was an injustice done to Makati, and revenues lost must be reclaimed by the city from Taguig.”
“From 1993 to now, they have collected taxes rightfully for Makati. We will get what we should have gotten,” he said, adding that at this point in the year, Makati would only be able to collect business taxes for the third and fourth quarter “unless the court tells us we cannot yet get taxes from the area.”
Binay said that losing BGC would mean a huge financial blow to Taguig City. “I was thinking it may also affect their status as a city, because they will have reduced revenue and land area—which are some basis to determine cityhood. They might revert back to municipality.”
Binay expects Taguig to put up a fight. “We respect that Taguig will exhaust all means to bring their case to court and get a favorable decision. They still have the Supreme Court,” he said.
In the end, when Makati could start asserting authority over the area “will depend on what action is to be taken by Taguig,” according to Binay, who estimated that a Taguig appeal on the CA decision would take at least two months to resolve.