In the decision made public by the Supreme Court’s 2nd division on Monday, the City of Makati was found guilty of forum shopping in the Taguig land dispute over Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
In July 2011, the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled in favor of Taguig. In response, Makati filed a motion for reconsideration and a petition for annulment of judgment with the Court of Appeals (CA).
The RTC rejected Makati’s motion for reconsideration, while the appellate court ruled the petition for annulment of judgment moot.
Taguig countered by filing a petition for review of certiorari with the Supreme Court and accused Makati of abusing the legal process.
This resulted in the confusion of rulings which the High Court stated in their 27-page decision as conflicting “not only between different courts but even within the Court of Appeals itself.”
They further stated that the adverse effects to the administration of justice are “not hypothetical, it is a realized harm.”
“Respondent City of Makati is declared to have engaged in forum shopping in simultaneously pursuing a petition for annulment of judgment before the Court of Appeals and a motion for reconsideration before Branch 153 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, and later, an appeal before the Court of Appeals,” said the High Court. Forum shopping is also known as ensuring concurrent remedies in two different panels.
The City of Makati was found guilty of direct contempt through its counsels Atty. Pio Kenneth Dasal, Atty. Glenda Isabel Biason, and Atty. Gwyn Gareth Mariano, who were given a fine of P2,000 each. However, their legal officer Don Camiña remains confident that the ruling will favor them and their rightful claim, and will not need the help of technicalities to win the decision.
Concurring with the ruling were Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza.