The dispute between Taguig and Makati just got uglier, with both sides threatening to swap charges following another scuffle between their personnel, the third since the two city governments started asserting their right to exercise jurisdiction over the revenue-rich Fort Bonifacio.
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, members of the Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Madac) chanced upon around 20 to 30 men believed to be from Taguig’s Public Order and Safety Office (Poso) removing “Welcome BGC, Makati” banners on McKinley Road, Barangay (village) Forbes Park.
This led to a heated argument which later turned into a shoving match. A staff member of Barangay Southside—one of the seven barangays which effectively became part of Makati after the Court of Appeals ruled on July 30 that Fort Bonifacio was under the city’s jurisdiction, not Taguig’s—was injured after he was chased by Poso personnel who saw him recording the incident with a phone camera.
The scuffle broke up after Makati policemen arrived and intervened.
At a press conference Thursday, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. announced the filing of charges against the Taguig City personnel.
Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban said that apart from criminal charges like robbery, physical injuries and grave threats, they would also sue Taguig police chief Senior Superintendent Art Asis and his men for obstruction of justice following the release a Poso personnel.
Poso man arrested, freed
Roger Orbillo, a Poso member, was arrested during a followup operation conducted by the Makati police at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) hours after the incident on McKinley Road. Caught allegedly carrying a gun with an expired permit, he was handed over to the Taguig police who eventually released him.
“It is clear that Taguig personnel did not just create a disturbance in Makati; they broke the law. Thus, they should be held criminally liable for their actions,” Binay said, appealing to Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano to surrender her employees to authorities for being involved in the scuffle.
“If only one or two were involved, we could easily dismiss it as an unauthorized act but since they were more than 10 and they were wearing Taguig shirts, it’s hard to believe that they were not ordered to do that,” Binay said.
Makati’s legal department was considering filing charges against Cayetano and other city officials, he added.
“Ever since the Court of Appeals issued its decision returning jurisdiction over the Inner Fort to Makati, Taguig personnel have been relentless in their bullying and harassment of Makati City Hall employees and ordinary residents,” Binay said. “But the incident yesterday at McKinley was the last straw. And we cannot let this pass.”
But Poso chief Kim Pautin also threatened to file charges against the Makati police, saying they overstepped their jurisdiction when they arrested Orbillo at the BGC.
“We will be filing charges against Makati’s chief of police for encroaching [on] Taguig territory, well beyond their area of responsibility. There is no direct Court of Appeals order for the Makati police to exercise jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio or BGC. And despite a National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) directive, they still ventured into an area outside of their jurisdiction,” he said in a statement.
The Taguig government also belied Binay’s claim that Orbillo was allowed to escape. It argued that based on a police blotter entry, Orbillo was released “following the rules of due process.” The entry was countersigned by Chief Inspector Dexter Castor of the Makati police.
Tit for tat
In response to Binay’s demands that Orbilla be turned over to the Makati police, Pautin said: “We also register our demand that Makati surrender to Taguig all policemen and personnel of its [public safety department], engineering office and other employees who encroached [on] our boundaries.”
Meanwhile, the NCRPO shrugged off Binay’s threat to cite it in contempt for not immediately turning over jurisdiction of Fort Bonifacio to the Makati police despite the court ruling.
On Monday, NCRPO officials relayed a “verbal directive” to Makati and Taguig officials to observe the status quo, meaning the Taguig police would remain in control of the disputed Fort Bonifacio area.
“Those who are held in contempt are those who do not follow a court order. But the court did not issue a directive to us, so what will we be charged with?” NCRPO spokesperson Chief Inspector Robert Domingo told the Inquirer.