Starting Jan. 1 all civil, criminal cases within Fort Bonifacio reservation should be filed with Taguig City prosecutors, courts – SC

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, all criminal and civil cases within the 729-hectare Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation should be filed with the prosecutor’s office and the trial courts in Taguig City, the Supreme Court (SC) announced on Friday, Nov. 17.

The transfer of jurisdiction was due to the final and executory SC decision that declared as owned by the Taguig City government the 729-hectare Bonifacio Global City Complex and several barangays in Makati City.

The SC’s 2021 decision stopped the Makati City government “from exercising jurisdiction over, making improvements on, or otherwise treating as part of its territory Parcels 3 and 4, Psu 2031, comprising Fort Bonifacio, including the so-called Inner Fort comprising of Barangays Pembo, Comembo, Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo and Pitogo.”

The Philippine Army headquarters, Navy installation, Marines’ headquarters, Consular area, JUSMAG area, Heritage Park, Libingan ng Mga Bayani, AFP Officers Village and the so-called six villages are situated in the said areas.

With the finality of the decision, the SC issued guidelines on cases within Parcels 3 and 4 which used to be within Makati City’s jurisdiction.

The SC said the guidelines were issued in response to a letter from Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni L. Cayetano, who requested that the transfer of jurisdiction to the Taguig City courts be set on October 16, 2023.

But the SC said that to enable the courts, the prosecution, the Public Attorneys Office, and other court users to prepare, the effectivity date for the transfer is set on Jan. 1, 2024.

Thus, it said that starting Jan. 1, 2024, all civil and criminal cases arising within the affected areas should be filed in the courts of Taguig City.

However, it said that criminal complaints related to crimes and offenses that transpired or were committed within the affected areas before Jan. 1, 2024, should be filed with the Makati City prosecutor’s office.

The SC said that all civil and criminal cases already filed and pending before the first- and second-level courts in Makati City before Jan. 1, 2024, should proceed to trial, be heard, and ultimately be decided by the respective Makati City courts where they were pending.

In ruling that the 729-hectare Bonifacio Global City Complex and several barangays in Makati City are part of Taguig City, the SC said that based on historical, documentary, and testimonial evidence, the contested areas fall within the territorial jurisdiction of Taguig City.

“Considering the historical evidence adduced, cadastral surveys submitted, and the contemporaneous acts of lawful authorities, We find that Taguig presented evidence that is more convincing and worthier of belief than those proffered by Makati,” the SC ruled in a decision written by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario.