Taguig-Makati land row flares up over schools | Inquirer News

Taguig-Makati land row flares up over schools

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:30 AM August 13, 2023

A volunteer of Barangay Pitogo, which formerly belonged to Makati City, standsguard at a makeshift barricade made of plastic road dividers across a street leading to Pitogo High School (PHS)

BARRICADES | A volunteer of Barangay Pitogo, which formerly belonged to Makati City, stands
guard at a makeshift barricade made of plastic road dividers across a street leading to Pitogo High School (PHS) to prevent officials and personnel from Taguig City from taking control of the school on Saturday night. (Photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The territorial dispute between the cities of Makati and Taguig that was supposedly resolved permanently by the Supreme Court is far from over as Makati opposed Taguig’s move to take over 14 public elementary and high school buildings in 10 barangays that used to be part of the city.

The Makati City government condemned Taguig’s attempt to take control of the schools on Saturday, barely three weeks before the start of classes.


According to Makati City administrator Claro Certeza, “enforcers” belonging to the Taguig City Public Safety Department (PSD), tried to take over the schools without any writ of execution or any legal order, and “created unnecessary tension in these areas.”


“We also wish to inform Taguig that these public schools are properties owned by the City of Makati,” Certeza said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the improvements on the schools were paid for by Makati.

“The decision of the Supreme Court involved a boundary dispute. It did not transfer to Taguig ownership of properties owned by the City of Makati,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

DepEd request

In its Dec. 1, 2021 decision, the Supreme Court’s Third Division declared permanent the injunction issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court in 1994 stopping the Makati government from exercising jurisdiction over the Inner Fort composed of the 10 “Embo” (enlisted men’s barrios) or barangays — Pembo, Comembo, Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo, Pitogo, Rizal, Post Proper Northside and Post Proper Southside — as well as the military reservation Fort Bonifacio, where the 240-hectare Bonifacio Global City is located.

The court ruled that based on historical, documentary, and testimonial evidence, these areas were in the territorial jurisdiction of Taguig.

The 14 public schools located in the affected barangays in Makati’s District 2 were Fort Bonifacio Elementary School, Cembo Elementary School, South Cembo Elementary School, Pitogo Elementary School, East Rembo Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School, Comembo Elementary School, West Rembo Elementary School, Pembo ES, Makati Science High School (MSHS), Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino High School, Tibagan High School, Fort Bonifacio High School and Pitogo High School.

Reacting to Makati’s resistance, the Taguig government said it was just complying with a request from the superintendent for Taguig-Pateros of the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement the high court’s decision.


But Certeza said Taguig’s action was “an act of duplicity and bad faith.”

Another part of a street leading to Pitogo High School (PHS)

On another part of the same street, a steel barrier blocks another approach to the school. PHS is one of the 14 public elementary and high schools in 10 barangays whose jurisdiction was transferred to Taguig following a Supreme Court ruling on the territorial dispute between the two cities. (Photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Transition issues

“Taguig’s attempt to unlawfully enter and take possession of properties owned by Makati shall be treated as a criminal act and Makati shall be constrained to institute the appropriate criminal and administrative cases,” he said.

Certeza said that on Aug. 7, the city government of Taguig wrote to the city of Makati requesting discussions for a smooth transition.

Makati created a “transition team” which he headed to meet with its Taguig counterpart and were “ready to offer arrangements that would benefit the students.”

“But Taguig apparently was not sincere and was in reality intent on using force,” Certeza said.

Taguig’s government said in a statement that what Certeza was saying was “a lie and another desperate attempt to mislead the public.”

“We take strong exception to the misleading and patently false statements made by the City Administrator of Makati, including the threats of criminal and administrative cases to be filed,” it said in a statement on Saturday.

It said the city administrator’s statements were meant to “sow fear and uncertainty among the residents of these barangays” when officials from both sides should be cooperating for a “seamless” transfer of the schools.It also cited a DepEd memorandum order (MO) intended to comply with the Supreme Court decision.

DepEd National Capital Region’s MO No. 2023-735 dated Aug. 4 signed by regional director Wilfredo Cabral places the 14 public schools, including the MSHS, under the supervision of the Division of Taguig-Pateros.

Coordination sought

Taguig already has its own science high school since 2004, the Taguig Science High School, located on M.L. Quezon Avenue in Barangay San Miguel.

The MO directed the superintendents of the two concerned schools division offices to “coordinate” with their respective local governments for the smooth and orderly transition and turnover of their “management and supervision.”

The public school officials, teachers, parents, community leaders, and the Taguig City government started conducting regular meetings in preparation for Brigada Eskwela and the opening of the school year on Aug. 29.

According to the Taguig government, the Schools Division Office of Taguig-Pateros requested assistance from the City of Taguig, including the deployment of security personnel, to ensure the welfare of the students, teachers, and staff, and the “peaceful and orderly conduct” of the transition.

The Taguig government said it directed its security provider to coordinate with the schools superintendent of Makati, its security provider, and the Philippine National Police.

“However, in reaction to these preparations, the City of Makati in connivance with their private security firm and a few allied barangay officials, illegally barricaded the public schools and streets, which in at least one instance led to a school principal being prevented from entering her own campus,” it said.

From Saturday morning until noon, residents and members of Bantay Bayan of the affected barangays formed barricades to stop personnel from the Taguig government from entering the premises of the schools.

Photos posted on social media showed both Taguig City PSD in red uniforms and Makati City PSD in blue standing outside the gates of Rizal Elementary School on Milkweed Street.

Emotions running high

The Taguig government said it would continue to exercise its jurisdiction over the affected barangays, in coordination with the local community leaders.

“While we understand that emotions still run high and it is not easy to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court, we also reiterate that there is a point where professionalism, duty to the people, and adherence to the law must rise to the top,” it said. “We can only pray that this moment of clarity will come to the city officials of Makati sooner rather than later.”

In a video message last month, Makati Mayor Abby Binay promised to find ways to continue helping out the more than 300,000 residents who are now with Taguig City after the Supreme Court resolved the territorial dispute in favor of Taguig.

She touted the city’s “best social protection benefits” that, she pointed out, Taguig “is unlikely to match.”

More than 3,000 students from the transferred barangays would be affected.

Students of Makati, the second wealthiest city in the country with assets amounting to P238 billion — enjoy a lot of perks from the city government.

Under its “Project Free,” each student at the start of the school year receives free school supplies, uniforms, shoes, bags, and hygiene kits. Graduates of Grade 6 and Grade 12 also receive cash incentives. Students of MSHS receive a monthly stipend of P1,500.

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All of Makati’s public school teachers are also given free laptops and internet load.


Taguig LGU: ‘All systems go’ in opening of classes in schools formerly under Makati

Taguig on Binay’s worries over ex-Makati residents’ benefits: ‘Irrelevant’

Mayor Binay to continue helping 300,000 residents affected by Makati-Taguig territorial dispute

TAGS: Abby Binay, Claro Certeza, Makati public schools, Makati-Taguig land dispute, Supreme Court

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