Makati guilty of direct contempt over BGC row with Taguig
The City of Makati through its counsels is guilty of direct contempt for abusing the legal processes after it simultaneously filed twin remedies in connection with its long-running legal battle with Taguig over Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
In a 27-page decision made public Monday, the Supreme Court’s 2nd division granted Taguig’s petition which sought to declare Makati guilty of forum shopping and asked that an appropriate sanction be meted against it.
The dispute between Taguig and Makati began when Taguig (a municipality then) in 1993 filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig a complaint against Makati (then also a municipality) claiming that the areas comprising the Enlisted Men’s Barangays or EMBOs as well as the area referred to as Inner Fort in Fort Bonifacio, were within its territory and jurisdiction.” On July 8, 2011, the RTC ruled in favor of Taguig.
Stung by the judicial setback, Makati filed a motion for reconsideration with the RTC. At the same time, it brought its case to the Court of Appeals (CA) by filing a petition for annulment of judgment. The two remedies basically asked for the same thing, the reversal of the RTC’s decision.
Then, the RTC eventually denied Makati’s motion for reconsideration, prompting Makati to file an appeal with the CA where its petition for annulment of judgment (of the same RTC decision) has been pending.
The appeals court then, eventually held that the petition for annulment of judgment has become moot prompting Taguig to take its case to the high court saying that Makati should be sanctioned for abusing the legal process resulting in the confusion of rulings which has characterized the handling of the territorial dispute by the CA.
In citing the City of Makati through its lawyers for indirect contempt, the high court said the city has no justification whatsoever for its simultaneous filing of a petition for annulment of judgment with the CA.
By filing two actions with two different courts, the high court said Makati is asking for essentially the same relief, giving rise to the odious situation in which two courts would issue two different and conflicting rulings on the same issue. In this case, the RTC ruled that Makati was guilty of forum shopping (or pursuing simultaneous remedies in two different fora) while the CA, after initially ruling that Makati was indeed guilty of forum shopping, later reversed itself by deeming Makati’s petition for relief of judgment as moot.
“Respondent City of Makati’s actions have not only vexed courts ad an adverse litigant. They have actually and already given rise to conflicting decisions, not only between different courts—the RTC and Court of Appeals—but even within the Court of Appeals itself,” the high court, in the decision written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said.
“The damage to the administration of justice is not hypothetical, it is a realized harm,” the high court further stated.
Saying that is “putting its foot down” on this abuse of the legal process, the SC adjudged the counsels of Makati responsible for its forum shopping violation guilty of direct contempt and imposed fines on them.
Concurring with the ruling are Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza. RAM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.