THE EDUCATION department has taken over the management of 14 public schools affected by a Supreme Court decision on a territorial dispute between the cities of Makati and Taguig.

In an Aug. 16 order, the agency cited “increasing tension” between the two cities, which it said could affect the “peaceful and orderly reopening of schools” on Aug. 29.

“The Office of the Secretary shall directly supervise the management and administration of all 14 schools, pending a transition plan, effective immediately,” according to the order. It cited the need to protect the students, teachers and nonteaching personnel.

The 14 schools are Makati Science High School, Comembo Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino High School and Tibagan High School.

Also on the list are Fort Bonifacio Elementary School, Fort Bonifacio High School, Pitogo Elementary School, Pitogo High School, Cembo Elementary School, East Rembo Elementary School, West Rembo Elementary School and South Cembo Elementary School.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has created a committee that will create a transition plan.

During the transition period, all school activities must be approved by DepEd.

School heads must directly report to and defer to the Education secretary on matters related to the daily operations of the schools.

The Philippine National Police has been tasked to enforce the DepEd order.

In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation is part of Taguig City. In 2022 and 2023, it denied Makati’s motion for reconsideration.

The dispute has affected about 30,000 students from the so-called EMBO (enlisted men’s barrios) schools in 10 villages that were formerly part of Makati City, with Taguig being accused of forcibly taking over the public schools. Taguig has denied the claim.

Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay earlier said the court ruling on the cities’ territorial row did not cover the ownership rights of the public schools, which she said were paid for and are owned by Makati.

In a statement, Ms. Binay welcomed DepEd’s decision to take over management of the schools, saying it would “ease the worries and concerns” of students, parents and teachers.

“We look forward to working wholeheartedly with the transition team created by the Vice President,” she said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza