PERPETUA VDA. DE APE vs. COURT OF APPEALS G.R. No. 133638, April 15, 2005

Fact: Private respondent instituted a case for “Specific Performance of a Deed of Sale with Damages” against Fortunato and his wife Petitioner.  It was alleged in the complaint that on 11 April 1971, private respondent and Fortunato entered into a contract of sale of land under which for a consideration of P5,000.00, Fortunato agreed to sell his share in Lot No. 2319 to private respondent.  The agreement was contained in a receipt prepared by private respondent’s son-in-law, Andres Flores, at her behest. Fortunato and petitioner denied the material allegations of the complaint and claimed that Fortunato never sold his share in Lot No. 2319 to private respondent and that his signature appearing on the purported receipt was forged. She also stated in her testimony that her husband was an illiterate and only learned how to write his name in order to be employed in a sugar central.

Issue: Whether a contract of sale exist between the Petitioner and Defendant?

Held: No, A contract of sale is a consensual contract, thus, it is perfected by mere consent of the parties.  It is born from the moment there is a meeting of minds upon the thing which is the object of the sale and upon the price. Upon its perfection, the parties may reciprocally demand performance, that is, the vendee may compel the transfer of the ownership and to deliver the object of the sale while the vendor may demand the vendee to pay the thing sold. For there to be a perfected contract of sale, however, the following elements must be present: consent, object, and price in money or its equivalent.   In this case, as private respondent is the one seeking to enforce the claimed contract of sale, she bears the burden of proving that the terms of the agreement were fully explained to Fortunato Ape who was an illiterate.  This she failed to do.  While she claimed in her testimony that the contents of the receipt were made clear to Fortunato, such allegation was debunked by Andres Flores himself when the latter took the witness stand.  As can be gleaned from Flores’s testimony, while he was very much aware of Fortunato’s inability to read and write in the English language, he did not bother to fully explain to the latter the substance of the receipt.  He even dismissed the idea of asking somebody else to assist Fortunato considering that a measly sum of thirty pesos was involved.  Evidently, it did not occur to Flores that the document he himself prepared pertains to the transfer altogether of Fortunato’s property to his mother-in-law.  It is precisely in situations such as this when the wisdom of Article 1332 of the Civil Code readily becomes apparent which is “to protect a party to a contract disadvantaged by illiteracy, ignorance, mental weakness or some other handicap.  The Court annulled the contract of sale between Fortunato and private respondent on the ground of vitiated consent.

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