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SECOND DIVISION

CYNTHIA C. ALABAN,
G.R. No. 156021
FRANCIS COLLADO, JOSE
P. COLLADO, JUDITH
Present:
PROVIDO, CLARITA PROVIDO,
ALFREDO PROVIDO, MANUEL
PUNO, J.,
PROVIDO, JR., LORNA DINA
Chairman,
E. PROVIDO, SEVERO ARENGA,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
JR., SERGIO ARENGA, EDUARDO
CALLEJO, SR.,
ARENGA, CAROL ARENGA, RUTH
TINGA, and
BABASA, NORMA HIJASTRO,
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
DOLORES M. FLORES, ANTONIO
MARIN, JR., JOSE MARIN, SR., and
MATHILDE MARIN,
Promulgated:
Petitioners,
September 23, 2005
- versus COURT OF APPEALS and
FRANCISCO H. PROVIDO,
Respondents.
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
TINGA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the Resolutions[1] of the

Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 69221,[2] dismissing


petitioners petition for annulment of judgment.
On 8 November 2000, respondent Francisco Provido
(respondent) filed a petition, docketed as SP Proc. No. 00-135, for
the probate of theLast Will and Testament[3] of the late Soledad
Provido Elevencionado (decedent), who died on 26 October 2000 in
Janiuay, Iloilo.[4] Respondent alleged that he was the heir of the
decedent and the executor of her will. On 30 May 2001, the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 68, in P.D. Monfort North,
Dumangas, Iloilo, rendered its Decision,[5] allowing the probate of
the will of the decedent and directing the issuance of letters
testamentary to respondent.[6]
More than four (4) months later, or on 4 October 2001, herein
petitioners filed a motion for the reopening of the probate
proceedings.[7] Likewise, they filed an opposition to the allowance
of the will of the decedent, as well as the issuance of letters
testamentary to respondent,[8]claiming that they are the intestate
heirs of the decedent. Petitioners claimed that the RTC did not
acquire jurisdiction over the petition due to non-payment of the
correct docket fees, defective publication, and lack of notice to the
other heirs. Moreover, they alleged that the will could not have
been probated because: (1) the signature of the decedent was
forged; (2) the will was not executed in accordance with law, that
is, the witnesses failed to sign below the attestation clause; (3) the
decedent lacked testamentary capacity to execute and publish a
will; (4) the will was executed by force and under duress and
improper pressure; (5) the decedent had no intention to make a will
at the time of affixing of her signature; and (6) she did not know the
properties to be disposed of, having included in the will properties
which no longer belonged to her. Petitioners prayed that the letters
testamentary issued to respondent be withdrawn and the estate of
the decedent disposed of under intestate succession.[9]

On 11 January 2002, the RTC issued an Order[10] denying


petitioners motion for being unmeritorious. Resolving the issue of
jurisdiction, the RTC held that petitioners were deemed notified of
the hearing by publication and that the deficiency in the payment of
docket fees is not a ground for the outright dismissal of the petition.
It merely required respondent to pay the deficiency.[11] Moreover,
the RTCs Decision was already final and executory even before
petitioners filing of the motion to reopen.[12]
Petitioners thereafter filed a petition[13] with an application for
preliminary injunction with the CA, seeking the annulment of the
RTCsDecision dated 30 May 2001 and Order dated 11 January
2002.
They
claimed
that
after
the
death
of
the
decedent, petitioners, together with respondent, held several
conferences to discuss the matter of dividing the estate of the
decedent, with respondent agreeing to a one-sixth (1/6) portion as
his share. Petitioners allegedly drafted a compromise agreement to
implement the division of the estate. Despite receipt of the
agreement, respondent refused to sign and return the
same. Petitioners opined that respondent feigned interest in
participating in the compromise agreement so that they would not
suspect his intention to secure the probate of the will.[14] They
claimed that they learnt of the probate proceedings only in July of
2001, as a result of which they filed their motion to reopen the
proceedings and admit their opposition to the probate of the will
only on 4 October 2001. They argued that the RTC Decision should
be annulled and set aside on the ground of extrinsic fraud and lack
of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC.[15]
In its Resolution[16] promulgated on 28 February 2002, the CA
dismissed the petition. It found that there was no showing that
petitioners failed to avail of or resort to the ordinary remedies of
new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment, or other
appropriate remedies through no fault of their own.[17] Moreover,
the CA declared as baseless petitioners claim that the proceedings
in the RTC was attended by extrinsic fraud. Neither was there any

showing that they availed of this ground in a motion for new trial or
petition for relief from judgment in the RTC, the CA
added.[18] Petitioners sought reconsideration of the Resolution, but
the same was denied by the CA for lack of merit.[19]
Petitioners now come to this Court, asserting that the CA
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction when it dismissed their petition for the alleged failure to
show that they have not availed of or resorted to the remedies of
new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment or other remedies
through no fault of their own, and held that petitioners were not
denied their day in court during the proceedings before the
RTC.[20] In addition, they assert that this Court has yet to decide a
case involving Rule 47 of the Rules of Court and, therefore, the
instant petition should be given due course for the guidance of the
bench and bar.[21]
For his part, respondent claims that petitioners were in a
position to avail of the remedies provided in Rules 37 and 38, as
they in fact did when they filed a motion for new trial.[22] Moreover,
they could have resorted to a petition for relief from judgment since
they learned of the RTCs judgment only three and a half months
after its promulgation.[23] Respondent likewise maintains that no
extrinsic fraud exists to warrant the annulment of the
RTCs Decision, since there was no showing that they were denied
their day in court. Petitioners were not made parties to the probate
proceedings because the decedent did not institute them as her
heirs.[24] Besides, assuming arguendo that petitioners are heirs of
the decedent, lack of notice to them is not a fatal defect since
personal notice upon the heirs is a matter of procedural
convenience and not a jurisdictional requisite.[25]
Finally,
respondent charges petitioners of forumshopping, since the latter
have a pending suit involving the same issues as those in SP No.
00-135, that is SP No. 1181[26] filed before Branch 23, RTC of
General Santos City and subsequently pending on appeal before the
CA in CA-G.R. No.74924.[27]

It appears that one of the petitioners herein, Dolores M. Flores


(Flores), who is a niece of the decedent, filed a petition for letters
of administration with the RTC of General Santos City, claiming
that the decedent died intestate without any issue, survived by five
groups of collateral heirs. Flores, armed with a Special Power of
Attorney from most of the other petitioners, prayed for her
appointment as administratrix of the estate of the decedent. The
RTC dismissed the petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction,
stating that the probate court in Janiuay, Iloilo has jurisdiction
since the venue for a petition for the settlement of the estate of a
decedent is the place where the decedent died. This is also in
accordance with the rule that the first court acquiring jurisdiction
shall continue hearing the case to the exclusion of other courts, the
RTC added.[28] On 9 January 2002, Flores filed a Notice of
Appeal [29] and
on
28
January
2002,
the
case
was
[30]
ordered forwarded to the CA.
Petitioners maintain that they were not made parties to the
case in which the decision sought to be annulled was rendered and,
thus, they could not have availed of the ordinary remedies of new
trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment and other appropriate
remedies, contrary to the ruling of the CA. They aver that
respondents offer of a false compromise and his failure to notify
them of the probate of the will constitute extrinsic fraud that
necessitates the annulment of the RTCs judgment.[31]
The petition is devoid of merit.
Section 37 of the Rules of Court allows an aggrieved party to
file a motion for new trial on the ground of fraud,
accident, mistake, or excusable negligence. The same

Rule permits the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the


grounds of excessive award of damages, insufficiency of evidence to
justify the decision or final order, or that the decision or final order
is contrary to law.[32] Both motions should be filed within the
period for taking an appeal, or fifteen (15) days from notice of the
judgment or final order.
Meanwhile, a petition for relief from judgment under Section 3
of Rule 38 is resorted to when a judgment or final order is entered,
or any other proceeding is thereafter taken, against a party in any
court
through
fraud,
accident,
mistake,
or
excusable
negligence. Said party may file a petition in the same court and in
the same case to set aside the judgment, order or proceeding. It
must be filed within sixty (60) days after the petitioner learns of the
judgment and within six (6) months after entry thereof.[33]
A motion for new trial or reconsideration and a petition for
relief
from
judgment
are
remedies
available
only to parties in the proceedings where the assailed

judgment is rendered.[34] In fact, it has been held that a person


who was never a party to the case, or even summoned to appear
therein, cannot avail of a petition for relief from judgment.[35]
However, petitioners in this case are mistaken in asserting
that they are not or have not become parties to the probate
proceedings.
Under the Rules of Court, any executor, devisee, or legatee
named in a will, or any other person interested in the estate may, at
any time after the death of the testator, petition the court having
jurisdiction to have the will allowed.[36] Notice of the time and place
for proving the will must be published for three (3) consecutive
weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation in the province,[37] as
well as furnished to the designated or other known heirs, legatees,
and devisees of the testator.[38] Thus, it has been held that a
proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such that with the
corresponding publication of the petition the court's jurisdiction
extends to all persons interested in said will or in the settlement of
the estate of the decedent.[39]
Publication is notice to the whole world that the proceeding
has for its object to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to
make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be
established. It is the publication of such notice that brings in the
whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with
jurisdiction to hear and decide it.[40] Thus, even though petitioners
were not mentioned in the petition for probate, they eventually
became parties thereto as a consequence of the publication of the
notice of hearing.
As parties
validly availed
reconsideration
petitioners filed

to the probate proceedings, petitioners could have


of the remedies of motion for new trial or
and petition for relief from judgment. In fact,
a motion to reopen, which is essentially a motion

for new trial, with petitioners praying for the reopening of the case
and the setting of further proceedings. However, the motion was
denied for having been filed out of time, long after
the Decision became final and executory.
Conceding that petitioners became aware of the Decision after
it had become final, they could have still filed a petition for relief
from judgment after the denial of their motion to reopen. Petitioners
claim that they learned of the Decision only on 4 October 2001, or
almost four (4) months from the time the Decision had attained
finality. But they failed to avail of the remedy.
For failure to make use without sufficient justification of the
said remedies available to them, petitioners could no longer resort
to a petition for annulment of judgment; otherwise, they would
benefit from their own inaction or negligence.[41]

Even casting aside the procedural requisite, the petition for


annulment of judgment must still fail for failure to comply with the
substantive requisites, as the appellate court ruled.
An action for annulment of judgment is a remedy in law
independent of the case where the judgment sought to be annulled
was rendered.[42] The purpose of such action is to have the final
and executory judgment set aside so that there will be a renewal of
litigation. It is resorted to in cases where the ordinary remedies of
new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment, or other
appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the
petitioner,[43] and is based on only two grounds: extrinsic fraud, and
lack of jurisdiction or denial of due process.[44] A person need not
be a party to the judgment sought to be annulled, and it is only
essential that he can prove his allegation that the judgment was

obtained by the use of fraud and collusion and he would be


adversely affected thereby.[45]

An action to annul a final judgment on the ground of fraud lies


only if the fraud is extrinsic or collateral in character.[46] Fraud is
regarded as extrinsic where it prevents a party from having a trial
or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it operates
upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the
manner in which it is procured. The overriding consideration when
extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme of the
prevailing litigant prevented a party from having his day in
court.[47]
To sustain their allegation of extrinsic fraud, petitioners assert
that as a result of respondents deliberate omission or concealment
of their names, ages and residences as the other heirs of the
decedent in his petition for allowance of the will, they were not
notified of the proceedings, and thus they were denied their day in
court. In addition, they claim that respondents offer of a false
compromise even before the filing of the petition prevented them
from appearing and opposing the petition for probate.
The Court is not convinced.

According to the Rules, notice is required to be personally


given to known heirs, legatees, and devisees of the testator.[48] A
perusal of the will shows that respondent was instituted as the sole
heir of the decedent. Petitioners, as nephews and nieces of the
decedent, are neither compulsory nor testate heirs[49] who are
entitled to be notified of the probate proceedings under the
Rules. Respondent had no legal obligation to mention petitioners in
the petition for probate, or to personally notify them of the
same.

Besides, assuming arguendo that petitioners are entitled to be


so notified, the purported infirmity is cured by the publication of
the notice. After all, personal notice upon the heirs is a matter of
procedural convenience and not a jurisdictional requisite.[50]
The non-inclusion of petitioners names in the petition and the
alleged failure to personally notify them of the proceedings do not
constitute extrinsic fraud. Petitioners were not denied their day in
court, as they were not prevented from participating in the
proceedings and presenting their case before the probate court.

One other vital point is the issue of forum-shopping against


petitioners. Forum-shopping consists of filing multiple suits in
different courts, either simultaneously or successively, involving the
same parties, to ask the courts to rule on the same or related
causes and/or to grant the same or substantially same reliefs,[51] on
the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable
disposition.[52] Obviously, the parties in the instant case, as well as
in the appealed case before the CA, are the same. Both cases deal
with the existence and validity of the alleged will of the decedent,
with petitioners anchoring their cause on the state of intestacy. In
the probate proceedings, petitioners position has always been that
the decedent left no will and if she did, the will does not comply
with the requisites of a valid will. Indeed, that position is the
bedrock of their present petition. Of course, respondent maintains
the contrary stance. On the other hand, in the petition for letters of
administration,
petitioner
Flores
prayed for her appointment as administratrix of the

estate on the theory that the decedent died intestate. The petition
was dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, and it is this
order of dismissal which is the subject of review in CA-G.R. No.
74924. Clearly, therefore, there is forum-shopping.
Moreover, petitioners failed to inform the Court of the said
pending case in their certification against forum- shopping. Neither
have they done so at any time thereafter. The Court notes that even
in the petition for annulment of judgment, petitioners failed to
inform the CA of the pendency of their appeal in CA-G.R. No.
74924, even though the notice of appeal was filed way before the
petition for annulment of judgment was instituted.
WHEREFORE,
petitioners.

the

petition

is

DENIED.

Costs

against

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 77047 May 28, 1988


JOAQUINA R-INFANTE DE ARANZ, ANTONIO R-INFANTE, CARLOS R. INFANTE, MERCEDES
R-INFANTE DE LEDNICKY, ALFREDO R-INFANTE, TERESITA R-INFANTE, RAMON RINFANTE, FLORENCIA R-INFANTE DE DIAS, MARTIN R-INFANTE, JOSE R-INFANTE LINK and
JOAQUIN R-INFANTE CAMPBELL, petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. NICOLAS GALING, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, NATIONAL
CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH NO. 166, PASIG, METRO MANILA AND JOAQUIN RINFANTE, respondents.
Belo, Abiera and Associates for petitioners.
Miguel J. Lagman for respondents.

PADILLA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated 13 January
1987, in CA-G.R. SP No. 09622, entitled "Joaquina R-Infante de Aranz, et al., petitioners vs. Hon. Nicolas
Galing, etc., et al., respondents," dismissing petitioners' petition for certiorari and prohibition as-, sailing
the orders 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 166, dated 12 May 1986 and 30 May 1986,
respectively, in Sp. Proc. No. 9995, entitled, "In the Matter of Petition for Approval of the Last Will and
Testament of Montserrat R-Infante y G-Pola Joaquin R. Infante, Petitioner."

On 3 March 1986, private respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 166, a
petition for the probate and allowance of the last will and testament of the late Montserrat R-Infante y
G-Pola The petition specified the names and ad- dresses of herein petitioners as legatees and
devisees, as follows:
Joaquina R-Infante Roxas de Aranz residing at No. 86 10th St., New Manila, Quezon
City, Metro Manila;
Antonio R-Infante Roxas residing at #91 Cambridge, North Forbes, Makati, Metro
Manila;
Carlos R-Infante Roxas residing at #46 Washington St., Greenhills, San Juan, Metro
Manila;
Mercedes R-Infante Roxas de Lednicky residing at #386 P. Guevarra St., San Juan,
Metro Manila;
Alfredo R-Infante Roxas residing at #27 A Scout Tobias St., Quezon City, Metro
Manila;
Teresita R-Infante Roxas residing at #121 9th Street, New Manila, Quezon City,
Metro Manila;
Ramon R-Infante Roxas residing at #27 B Scout Tobias St., Quezon City, Metro
Manila;
Florencia R-Infante Roxas de Diaz residing at Calle Sancho Davila, 13-19-D, Madrid,
28028 Spain;
Martin R-Infante Roxas residing at #2 Bongavilla St., Cubao, Quezon City, Metro
Manila;
Jose R-Infante Link residing at 174R-Pascual St., San Juan, Metro Manila;
Joaquin R-Infante Campbell C/O Pilar Campbell, 15 Briones, Makati, Metro Marta. 3
On 12 March 1986, the probate court issued an order selling the petition for hearing on 5 May 1986
at 8:30 o'clock in the morning. Said order was published in the "Nueva Era" A newspaper of general
circulation in Metro Manila once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks. On the date of the hearing,

no oppositor appeared. The hearing was then reset to 12 May 1986, on which date, the probate
court issued the following order:
There being no opposition to this instant case, as prayed for, the oner to-receive
Branch Clerk of Court is hereby designated Co evidence ex-parte of the petitioner.
SO ORDERED. 4
On the same day (12 May 1986), private respondent presented his evidence ex-parte and placed
Arturo Arceo one of the testamentary witnesses, on the witness stand. During the proceedings,
private respondent was appointed executor.
On 14 May 1986, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of 12 May 1986 alleging
that, as named legatees, no notices were sent to them as required by Sec. 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of
Court and they prayed that they be given a period of ten (10) days within which to file their
opposition to the probate of the will.
On 30 May 1986, the probate court, acting on the opposition of private respondent and the reply
thereto of petitioners, issued an order denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
Thereafter, petitioners filed with this Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition which was,
however, referred to the Court of Appeals. On 13 January 1987, the Court of Appeals promulgated a
decision dismissing the petition. 5Hence, the instant petition.
It is the view of petitioners that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that personal notice of probate
proceedings to the known legatees and devisees is not a jurisdictional requirement in the probate of
a will. Contrary to the holding of the Court of Appeals that the requirement of notice on individual
heirs, legatees and devisees is merely a matter of procedural convenience to better satisfy in some
instances the requirements of due process, petitioners allege that under Sec. 4 of Rule 76 of the
Rules of Court, said requirement of the law is mandatory and its omission constitutes a reversible
error for being constitutive of grave abuse of discretion. 6
We grant the petition:
Sec. 4, Rule 76 of the Rules of Cof reads:
SEC. 4. Heirs, devisees, legatees, and executors to be notified by mail or personally.
The court shag also cause copies of the notice of the time and place fixed for
proving the will to be addressed to the designated or other known heirs, legatees,
and devisees of the testator resident in the Philippines at their places of residence,
and deposited in the post office with the postage thereon prepaid at least twenty (20)
days before the hearing, if such places of residence be known. A copy of the notice
must in like manner be mailed to the person named as executor, if he be not, the
petitioner; also, to any person named as co-executor not petitioning, if their places of
residence be known. Personal service of copies of the notice at least ten (10) days
before the day of hearing shall be equivalent to mailing.
It is clear from the aforecited rule that notice of the time and place of the hearing for the allowance of
a will shall be forwarded to the designated or other known heirs, legatees, and devisees residing in
the Philippines at their places of residence, if such places of residence be known. There is no
question that the residences of herein petitioners legatees and devisees were known to the probate

court. The petition for the allowance of the wig itself indicated the names and addresses of the
legatees and devisees of the testator. 7 But despite such knowledge, the probate court did not cause
copies of the notice to be sent to petitioners. The requirement of the law for the allowance of the will was
not satisfied by mere publication of the notice of hearing for three (3) weeks in a newspaper of general
circulation in the province.

The case of Joson vs. Nable 8 cited by the Court of Appeals in its assailed decision to support its theory
is not applicable in the present case. In that case, petitioners Purificacion Joson and Erotica Joson failed
to contest the will of Tomas Joson because they had not been notified of the hearing of the petition for
probate. he the petition included the residence of petitioners as Dagupan Street No. 83, Manila,
petitioners claimed that their residence was not Dagupan Street No. 83, Manila. There the Court said:

Petitioners maintain that no notice was received by them partly because their
residence was not Dagupan Street No. 83 as alleged in the petition for probate. If the
allegation of the petition was wrong and the true residence of petitioners was not
known, then notice upon them individually was not necessary. Under the provision
abovequoted, individual notice upon heirs, legatees and devisees is necessary only
when they are known or when their places of residence are known. In other
instances, such notice is not necessary and the court may acquire and exercise
jurisdiction simply upon the publication of the notice in a newspaper of general
circulation. ... 9
In Re: Testate Estate of Suntay, 10 the Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Sabino Padilla, said:
... It is a proceedings in rem and for the validity of such proceedings personal notice
or by publication or both to all interested parties must be made. The interested
parties in the case were known to reside in the Philippines. The evidence shows that
no such notice was received by the interested parties residing in the Philippines (pp.
474, 476, 481, 503-4, t.s.n., hearing of 24 February 1948). The proceedings had in
the municipal district court of Amoy, China, may be likened to a deposition or to a
perpetuation of testimony, and even if it were so it does not measure or come up to
the standard of such proceedings in the Philippines for lack of notice to all interested
parties and the proceedings were held at the back of such interested parties.
xxx xxx xxx
... In view thereof, the will and the alleged probate thereof cannot be said to have
been done in accordance with the accepted basic and fundamental concepts and
principles followed in the probate and allowance of wills. Consequently, the
authenticated transcript of proceedings held in the municipal district court of Amoy,
China, cannot be deemed and accepted as proceedings leading to the probate or
allowance of a will and, therefore, the will referred to therein cannot be allowed, filed
and recorded by a competent court of court. 11
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 13 January 1987 is hereby ANNULLED
and SET ASIDE. The case is hereby ordered remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Pasig for
further proceedings in accordance with this decision. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 139868

June 8, 2006

ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, Petitioner,


vs.
CANDELARIA GUERSEY-DALAYGON, Respondent.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Spouses Audrey ONeill (Audrey) and W. Richard Guersey (Richard) were American citizens who have
resided in the Philippines for 30 years. They have an adopted daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill (Kyle). On July
29, 1979, Audrey died, leaving a will. In it, she bequeathed her entire estate to Richard, who was also
designated as executor.1 The will was admitted to probate before the Orphans Court of Baltimore,
Maryland, U.S.A, which named James N. Phillips as executor due to Richards renunciation of his
appointment.2 The court also named Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta (petitioner) of the Quasha Asperilla Ancheta
Pena & Nolasco Law Offices as ancillary administrator. 3
In 1981, Richard married Candelaria Guersey-Dalaygon (respondent) with whom he has two children,
namely, Kimberly and Kevin.
On October 12, 1982, Audreys will was also admitted to probate by the then Court of First Instance of
Rizal, Branch 25, Seventh Judicial District, Pasig, in Special Proceeding No. 9625. 4 As administrator of
Audreys estate in the Philippines, petitioner filed an inventory and appraisal of the following properties:
(1) Audreys conjugal share in real estate with improvements located at 28 Pili Avenue, Forbes Park,
Makati, Metro Manila, valued atP764,865.00 (Makati property); (2) a current account in Audreys name
with a cash balance of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock in A/G Interiors, Inc.
worth P64,444.00.5
On July 20, 1984, Richard died, leaving a will, wherein he bequeathed his entire estate to respondent,
save for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle.6 The will was
also admitted to probate by the Orphans Court of Ann Arundel, Maryland, U.S.A, and James N. Phillips
was likewise appointed as executor, who in turn, designated Atty. William Quasha or any member of the
Quasha Asperilla Ancheta Pena & Nolasco Law Offices, as ancillary administrator.
Richards will was then submitted for probate before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 138,
docketed as Special Proceeding No. M-888.7 Atty. Quasha was appointed as ancillary administrator on
July 24, 1986.8
On October 19, 1987, petitioner filed in Special Proceeding No. 9625, a motion to declare Richard and
Kyle as heirs of Audrey.9 Petitioner also filed on October 23, 1987, a project of partition of Audreys
estate, with Richard being apportioned the undivided interest in the Makati property, 48.333 shares in
A/G Interiors, Inc., andP9,313.48 from the Citibank current account; and Kyle, the undivided interest in
the Makati property, 16,111 shares in A/G Interiors, Inc., and P3,104.49 in cash.10
The motion and project of partition was granted and approved by the trial court in its Order dated
February 12, 1988.11 The trial court also issued an Order on April 7, 1988, directing the Register of Deeds

of Makati to cancel TCT No. 69792 in the name of Richard and to issue a new title in the joint names of
the Estate of W. Richard Guersey ( undivided interest) and Kyle ( undivided interest); directing the
Secretary of A/G Interiors, Inc. to transfer 48.333 shares to the Estate of W. Richard Guersey and 16.111
shares to Kyle; and directing the Citibank to release the amount of P12,417.97 to the ancillary
administrator for distribution to the heirs.12
Consequently, the Register of Deeds of Makati issued on June 23, 1988, TCT No. 155823 in the names
of the Estate of W. Richard Guersey and Kyle.13
Meanwhile, the ancillary administrator in Special Proceeding No. M-888 also filed a project of partition
wherein 2/5of Richards undivided interest in the Makati property was allocated to respondent,
while 3/5 thereof were allocated to Richards three children. This was opposed by respondent on the
ground that under the law of the State of Maryland, "a legacy passes to the legatee the entire interest
of the testator in the property subject of the legacy."14 Since Richard left his entire estate to
respondent, except for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc, shares, then his entire
undivided interest in the Makati property should be given to respondent.
The trial court found merit in respondents opposition, and in its Order dated December 6, 1991,
disapproved the project of partition insofar as it affects the Makati property. The trial court also
adjudicated Richards entire undivided interest in the Makati property to respondent. 15
On October 20, 1993, respondent filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) an amended complaint for the
annulment of the trial courts Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, issued in Special
Proceeding No. 9625.16Respondent contended that petitioner willfully breached his fiduciary duty when he
disregarded the laws of the State of Maryland on the distribution of Audreys estate in accordance with
her will. Respondent argued that since Audrey devised her entire estate to Richard, then the Makati
property should be wholly adjudicated to him, and not merely thereof, and since Richard left his entire
estate, except for his rights and interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc., to respondent, then the entire Makati
property should now pertain to respondent.
Petitioner filed his Answer denying respondents allegations. Petitioner contended that he acted in good
faith in submitting the project of partition before the trial court in Special Proceeding No. 9625, as he had
no knowledge of the State of Marylands laws on testate and intestate succession. Petitioner alleged that
he believed that it is to the "best interests of the surviving children that Philippine law be applied as they
would receive their just shares." Petitioner also alleged that the orders sought to be annulled are already
final and executory, and cannot be set aside.
On March 18, 1999, the CA rendered the assailed Decision annulling the trial courts Orders dated
February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, in Special Proceeding No. 9625. 17 The dispositive portion of the
assailed Decision provides:
WHEREFORE, the assailed Orders of February 12, 1998 and April 7, 1988 are hereby ANNULLED and,
in lieu thereof, a new one is entered ordering:

(a) The adjudication of the entire estate of Audrey ONeill Guersey in favor of the estate of
W. Richard Guersey; and
(b) The cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 15583 of the Makati City Registry and
the issuance of a new title in the name of the estate of W. Richard Guersey.
SO ORDERED.18

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but this was denied by the CA per Resolution dated August
27, 1999.19
Hence, the herein petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court alleging that the CA
gravely erred in not holding that:

A) THE ORDERS OF 12 FEBRUARY 1988 AND 07 APRIL 1988 IN SPECIAL


PROCEEDINGS NO. 9625 "IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR PROBATE OF THE
WILL OF THE DECEASED AUDREY GUERSEY, ALONZO Q. ANCHETA, ANCILLARY
ADMINISTRATOR", ARE VALID AND BINDING AND HAVE LONG BECOME FINAL AND
HAVE BEEN FULLY IMPLEMENTED AND EXECUTED AND CAN NO LONGER BE
ANNULLED.
B) THE ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR HAVING ACTED IN GOOD FAITH, DID NOT
COMMIT FRAUD, EITHER EXTRINSIC OR INTRINSIC, IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS
DUTIES AS ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATOR OF AUDREY ONEIL GUERSEYS ESTATE IN
THE PHILIPPINES, AND THAT NO FRAUD, EITHER EXTRINSIC OR INTRINSIC, WAS
EMPLOYED BY [HIM] IN PROCURING SAID ORDERS.20
Petitioner reiterates his arguments before the CA that the Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7,
1988 can no longer be annulled because it is a final judgment, which is "conclusive upon the
administration as to all matters involved in such judgment or order, and will determine for all time and in
all courts, as far as the parties to the proceedings are concerned, all matters therein determined," and the
same has already been executed.21
Petitioner also contends that that he acted in good faith in performing his duties as an ancillary
administrator. He maintains that at the time of the filing of the project of partition, he was not aware of the
relevant laws of the State of Maryland, such that the partition was made in accordance with Philippine
laws. Petitioner also imputes knowledge on the part of respondent with regard to the terms of Aubreys
will, stating that as early as 1984, he already apprised respondent of the contents of the will and how the
estate will be divided.22
Respondent argues that petitioners breach of his fiduciary duty as ancillary administrator of Aubreys
estate amounted to extrinsic fraud. According to respondent, petitioner was duty-bound to follow the
express terms of Aubreys will, and his denial of knowledge of the laws of Maryland cannot stand because
petitioner is a senior partner in a prestigious law firm and it was his duty to know the relevant laws.
Respondent also states that she was not able to file any opposition to the project of partition because she
was not a party thereto and she learned of the provision of Aubreys will bequeathing entirely her estate to
Richard only after Atty. Ancheta filed a project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888 for the
settlement of Richards estate.
A decree of distribution of the estate of a deceased person vests the title to the land of the estate in the
distributees, which, if erroneous may be corrected by a timely appeal. Once it becomes final, its binding
effect is like any other judgment in rem.23 However, in exceptional cases, a final decree of distribution of
the estate may be set aside for lack of jurisdiction or fraud.24 Further, in Ramon v. Ortuzar,25 the Court
ruled that a party interested in a probate proceeding may have a final liquidation set aside when he is left
out by reason of circumstances beyond his control or through mistake or inadvertence not imputable to
negligence.26
The petition for annulment was filed before the CA on October 20, 1993, before the issuance of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure; hence, the applicable law is Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (B.P. 129) or the
Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. An annulment of judgment filed under B.P. 129 may be based on

the ground that a judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or that the judgment was obtained by extrinsic
fraud.27 For fraud to become a basis for annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic or actual, 28 and must
be brought within four years from the discovery of the fraud.29
In the present case, respondent alleged extrinsic fraud as basis for the annulment of the RTC Orders
dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988. The CA found merit in respondents cause and found that
petitioners failure to follow the terms of Audreys will, despite the latters declaration of good faith,
amounted to extrinsic fraud. The CA ruled that under Article 16 of the Civil Code, it is the national law of
the decedent that is applicable, hence, petitioner should have distributed Aubreys estate in accordance
with the terms of her will. The CA also found that petitioner was prompted to distribute Audreys estate in
accordance with Philippine laws in order to equally benefit Audrey and Richard Guerseys adopted
daughter, Kyle Guersey Hill.
Petitioner contends that respondents cause of action had already prescribed because as early as 1984,
respondent was already well aware of the terms of Audreys will, 30 and the complaint was filed only in
1993. Respondent, on the other hand, justified her lack of immediate action by saying that she had no
opportunity to question petitioners acts since she was not a party to Special Proceeding No. 9625, and it
was only after Atty. Ancheta filed the project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888, reducing her
inheritance in the estate of Richard that she was prompted to seek another counsel to protect her
interest.31
It should be pointed out that the prescriptive period for annulment of judgment based on extrinsic fraud
commences to run from the discovery of the fraud or fraudulent act/s. Respondents knowledge of the
terms of Audreys will is immaterial in this case since it is not the fraud complained of. Rather, it is
petitioners failure to introduce in evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland that is the fraudulent
act, or in this case, omission, alleged to have been committed against respondent, and therefore, the
four-year period should be counted from the time of respondents discovery thereof.
Records bear the fact that the filing of the project of partition of Richards estate, the opposition thereto,
and the order of the trial court disallowing the project of partition in Special Proceeding No. M-888 were
all done in 1991.32Respondent cannot be faulted for letting the assailed orders to lapse into finality since it
was only through Special Proceeding No. M-888 that she came to comprehend the ramifications of
petitioners acts. Obviously, respondent had no other recourse under the circumstances but to file the
annulment case. Since the action for annulment was filed in 1993, clearly, the same has not yet
prescribed.
Fraud takes on different shapes and faces. In Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 33 the
Court stated that "man in his ingenuity and fertile imagination will always contrive new schemes to fool the
unwary."
There is extrinsic fraud within the meaning of Sec. 9 par. (2), of B.P. Blg. 129, where it is one the effect of
which prevents a party from hearing a trial, or real contest, or from presenting all of his case to the court,
or where it operates upon matters, not pertaining to the judgment itself, but to the manner in which it was
procured so that there is not a fair submission of the controversy. In other words, extrinsic fraud refers to
any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in the litigation which is committed outside of the trial of the
case, whereby the defeated party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his side of the case by fraud or
deception practiced on him by his opponent. Fraud is extrinsic where the unsuccessful party has been
prevented from exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by
keeping him away from court, a false promise of a compromise; or where the defendant never had any
knowledge of the suit, being kept in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney
fraudulently or without authority connives at his defeat; these and similar cases which show that there has
never been a real contest in the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for which a new suit may be
sustained to set aside and annul the former judgment and open the case for a new and fair hearing. 34

The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing
litigant prevented a party from having his day in court.35
Petitioner is the ancillary administrator of Audreys estate. As such, he occupies a position of the highest
trust and confidence, and he is required to exercise reasonable diligence and act in entire good faith in
the performance of that trust. Although he is not a guarantor or insurer of the safety of the estate nor is he
expected to be infallible, yet the same degree of prudence, care and judgment which a person of a fair
average capacity and ability exercises in similar transactions of his own, serves as the standard by which
his conduct is to be judged.36
Petitioners failure to proficiently manage the distribution of Audreys estate according to the terms of her
will and as dictated by the applicable law amounted to extrinsic fraud. Hence the CA Decision annulling
the RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988, must be upheld.
It is undisputed that Audrey Guersey was an American citizen domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A. During the
reprobate of her will in Special Proceeding No. 9625, it was shown, among others, that at the time of
Audreys death, she was residing in the Philippines but is domiciled in Maryland, U.S.A.; her Last Will and
Testament dated August 18, 1972 was executed and probated before the Orphans Court in Baltimore,
Maryland, U.S.A., which was duly authenticated and certified by the Register of Wills of Baltimore City
and attested by the Chief Judge of said court; the will was admitted by the Orphans Court of Baltimore
City on September 7, 1979; and the will was authenticated by the Secretary of State of Maryland and the
Vice Consul of the Philippine Embassy.
Being a foreign national, the intrinsic validity of Audreys will, especially with regard as to who are her
heirs, is governed by her national law, i.e., the law of the State of Maryland, as provided in Article 16 of
the Civil Code, to wit:
Art. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary succession, both with respect to the order of succession and to
the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be
regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever
may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be
found. (Emphasis supplied)
Article 1039 of the Civil Code further provides that "capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the
nation of the decedent."
As a corollary rule, Section 4, Rule 77 of the Rules of Court on Allowance of Will Proved Outside the
Philippines and Administration of Estate Thereunder, states:
SEC. 4. Estate, how administered.When a will is thus allowed, the court shall grant letters
testamentary, or letters of administration with the will annexed, and such letters testamentary or of
administration, shall extend to all the estate of the testator in the Philippines. Such estate, after the
payment of just debts and expenses of administration, shall be disposed of according to such
will, so far as such will may operate upon it; and the residue, if any, shall be disposed of as is provided
by law in cases of estates in the Philippines belonging to persons who are inhabitants of another state or
country. (Emphasis supplied)
While foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take
judicial notice of them;37 however, petitioner, as ancillary administrator of Audreys estate, was dutybound to introduce in evidence the pertinent law of the State of Maryland. 38

Petitioner admitted that he failed to introduce in evidence the law of the State of Maryland on Estates and
Trusts, and merely relied on the presumption that such law is the same as the Philippine law on wills and
succession. Thus, the trial court peremptorily applied Philippine laws and totally disregarded the terms of
Audreys will. The obvious result was that there was no fair submission of the case before the trial court or
a judicious appreciation of the evidence presented.
Petitioner insists that his application of Philippine laws was made in good faith. The Court cannot accept
petitioners protestation. How can petitioner honestly presume that Philippine laws apply when as early as
the reprobate of Audreys will before the trial court in 1982, it was already brought to fore that Audrey was
a U.S. citizen, domiciled in the State of Maryland. As asserted by respondent, petitioner is a senior
partner in a prestigious law firm, with a "big legal staff and a large library."39 He had all the legal resources
to determine the applicable law. It was incumbent upon him to exercise his functions as ancillary
administrator with reasonable diligence, and to discharge the trust reposed on him faithfully.
Unfortunately, petitioner failed to perform his fiduciary duties.
Moreover, whether his omission was intentional or not, the fact remains that the trial court failed to
consider said law when it issued the assailed RTC Orders dated February 12, 1988 and April 7, 1988,
declaring Richard and Kyle as Audreys heirs, and distributing Audreys estate according to the project of
partition submitted by petitioner. This eventually prejudiced respondent and deprived her of her full
successional right to the Makati property.
In GSIS v. Bengson Commercial Bldgs., Inc.,40 the Court held that when the rule that the negligence or
mistake of counsel binds the client deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes a great
hindrance and chief enemy, its rigors must be relaxed to admit exceptions thereto and to prevent a
miscarriage of justice, and the court has the power to except a particular case from the operation of the
rule whenever the purposes of justice require it.
The CA aptly noted that petitioner was remiss in his responsibilities as ancillary administrator of Audreys
estate. The CA likewise observed that the distribution made by petitioner was prompted by his concern
over Kyle, whom petitioner believed should equally benefit from the Makati property. The CA correctly
stated, which the Court adopts, thus:
In claiming good faith in the performance of his duties and responsibilities, defendant Alonzo H. Ancheta
invokes the principle which presumes the law of the forum to be the same as the foreign law (Beam vs.
Yatco, 82 Phil. 30, 38) in the absence of evidence adduced to prove the latter law (Slade Perkins vs.
Perkins, 57 Phil. 205, 210). In defending his actions in the light of the foregoing principle, however, it
appears that the defendant lost sight of the fact that his primary responsibility as ancillary administrator
was to distribute the subject estate in accordance with the will of Audrey ONeill Guersey. Considering the
principle established under Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, as well as the citizenship and
the avowed domicile of the decedent, it goes without saying that the defendant was also duty-bound to
prove the pertinent laws of Maryland on the matter.
The record reveals, however, that no clear effort was made to prove the national law of Audrey ONeill
Guersey during the proceedings before the court a quo. While there is claim of good faith in distributing
the subject estate in accordance with the Philippine laws, the defendant appears to put his actuations in a
different light as indicated in a portion of his direct examination, to wit:
xxx
It would seem, therefore, that the eventual distribution of the estate of Audrey ONeill Guersey was
prompted by defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas concern that the subject realty equally benefit the plaintiffs
adopted daughter Kyle Guersey.

Well-intentioned though it may be, defendant Alonzo H. Anchetas action appears to have breached his
duties and responsibilities as ancillary administrator of the subject estate. While such breach of duty
admittedly cannot be considered extrinsic fraud under ordinary circumstances, the fiduciary
nature of the said defendants position, as well as the resultant frustration of the decedents last
will, combine to create a circumstance that is tantamount to extrinsic fraud. Defendant Alonzo H.
Anchetas omission to prove the national laws of the decedent and to follow the latters last will, in sum,
resulted in the procurement of the subject orders without a fair submission of the real issues involved in
the case.41 (Emphasis supplied)
This is not a simple case of error of judgment or grave abuse of discretion, but a total disregard of the law
as a result of petitioners abject failure to discharge his fiduciary duties. It does not rest upon petitioners
pleasure as to which law should be made applicable under the circumstances. His onus is clear.
Respondent was thus excluded from enjoying full rights to the Makati property through no fault or
negligence of her own, as petitioners omission was beyond her control. She was in no position to analyze
the legal implications of petitioners omission and it was belatedly that she realized the adverse
consequence of the same. The end result was a miscarriage of justice. In cases like this, the courts have
the legal and moral duty to provide judicial aid to parties who are deprived of their rights. 42
The trial court in its Order dated December 6, 1991 in Special Proceeding No. M-888 noted the law of the
State of Maryland on Estates and Trusts, as follows:
Under Section 1-301, Title 3, Sub-Title 3 of the Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of Maryland
on Estates and Trusts, "all property of a decedent shall be subject to the estate of decedents law, and
upon his death shall pass directly to the personal representative, who shall hold the legal title for
administration and distribution," while Section 4-408 expressly provides that "unless a contrary intent is
expressly indicated in the will, a legacy passes to the legatee the entire interest of the testator in the
property which is the subject of the legacy". Section 7-101, Title 7, Sub-Title 1, on the other hand,
declares that "a personal representative is a fiduciary" and as such he is "under the general duty to settle
and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the will and the estate of
decedents law as expeditiously and with as little sacrifice of value as is reasonable under the
circumstances".43
In her will, Audrey devised to Richard her entire estate, consisting of the following: (1) Audreys conjugal
share in the Makati property; (2) the cash amount of P12,417.97; and (3) 64,444 shares of stock in A/G
Interiors, Inc. worthP64,444.00. All these properties passed on to Richard upon Audreys death.
Meanwhile, Richard, in his will, bequeathed his entire estate to respondent, except for his rights and
interests over the A/G Interiors, Inc. shares, which he left to Kyle. When Richard subsequently died, the
entire Makati property should have then passed on to respondent. This, of course, assumes the
proposition that the law of the State of Maryland which allows "a legacy to pass to the legatee the entire
estate of the testator in the property which is the subject of the legacy," was sufficiently proven in Special
Proceeding No. 9625. Nevertheless, the Court may take judicial notice thereof in view of the ruling in
Bohanan v. Bohanan.44 Therein, the Court took judicial notice of the law of Nevada despite failure to
prove the same. The Court held, viz.:
We have, however, consulted the records of the case in the court below and we have found that during
the hearing on October 4, 1954 of the motion of Magdalena C. Bohanan for withdrawal of P20,000 as her
share, the foreign law, especially Section 9905, Compiled Nevada Laws, was introduced in evidence by
appellants' (herein) counsel as Exhibit "2" (See pp. 77-79, Vol. II, and t.s.n. pp. 24-44, Records, Court of
First Instance). Again said law was presented by the counsel for the executor and admitted by the Court
as Exhibit "B" during the hearing of the case on January 23, 1950 before Judge Rafael Amparo (see
Records, Court of First Instance, Vol. 1).
In addition, the other appellants, children of the testator, do not dispute the above-quoted provision of the
laws of the State of Nevada. Under all the above circumstances, we are constrained to hold that the
pertinent law of Nevada, especially Section 9905 of the Compiled Nevada Laws of 1925, can be taken

judicial notice of by us, without proof of such law having been offered at the hearing of the project of
partition.
In this case, given that the pertinent law of the State of Maryland has been brought to record before the
CA, and the trial court in Special Proceeding No. M-888 appropriately took note of the same in
disapproving the proposed project of partition of Richards estate, not to mention that petitioner or any
other interested person for that matter, does not dispute the existence or validity of said law, then
Audreys and Richards estate should be distributed according to their respective wills, and not according
to the project of partition submitted by petitioner. Consequently, the entire Makati property belongs to
respondent.
Decades ago, Justice Moreland, in his dissenting opinion in Santos v. Manarang,45 wrote:
A will is the testator speaking after death. Its provisions have substantially the same force and effect in
the probate court as if the testator stood before the court in full life making the declarations by word of
mouth as they appear in the will. That was the special purpose of the law in the creation of the instrument
known as the last will and testament. Men wished to speak after they were dead and the law, by the
creation of that instrument, permitted them to do so x x x All doubts must be resolved in favor of the
testator's having meant just what he said.
Honorable as it seems, petitioners motive in equitably distributing Audreys estate cannot prevail over
Audreys and Richards wishes. As stated in Bellis v. Bellis:46
x x x whatever public policy or good customs may be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress has
not intended to extend the same to the succession of foreign nationals. For it has specifically chosen to
leave, inter alia, the amount of successional rights, to the decedent's national Law. Specific provisions
must prevail over general ones.47
Before concluding, the Court notes the fact that Audrey and Richard Guersey were American citizens who
owned real property in the Philippines, although records do not show when and how the Guerseys
acquired the Makati property.
Under Article XIII, Sections 1 and 4 of the 1935 Constitution, the privilege to acquire and exploit lands of
the public domain, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and to operate public utilities, were
reserved to Filipinos and entities owned or controlled by them. In Republic v. Quasha,48 the Court clarified
that the Parity Rights Amendment of 1946, which re-opened to American citizens and business
enterprises the right in the acquisition of lands of the public domain, the disposition, exploitation,
development and utilization of natural resources of the Philippines, does not include the acquisition or
exploitation of private agricultural lands. The prohibition against acquisition of private lands by aliens was
carried on to the 1973 Constitution under Article XIV, Section 14, with the exception of private lands
acquired by hereditary succession and when the transfer was made to a former natural-born citizen, as
provided in Section 15, Article XIV. As it now stands, Article XII, Sections 7 and 8 of the 1986 Constitution
explicitly prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands or to lands of the public
domain, except only by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born
citizen.
In any case, the Court has also ruled that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently
becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and
the title of the transferee is rendered valid.49 In this case, since the Makati property had already passed
on to respondent who is a Filipino, then whatever flaw, if any, that attended the acquisition by the
Guerseys of the Makati property is now inconsequential, as the objective of the constitutional provision to
keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved.

WHEREFORE, the petition is denied. The Decision dated March 18, 1999 and the Resolution dated
August 27, 1999 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
Petitioner is ADMONISHED to be more circumspec