Sale contract thumbmarked by ILLITERATE seller can be cancelled

A contract of sale of property, WITHOUT CONSIDERATION, and executed by a person who is of low intelligence, illiterate, and who could not sign his name or affix his thumbmark, is void. (Aguinaldo v. Esteban. G.R. No. 27289. April 15, 1985, cited by Paras [2008])

It is significant to note that herein plaintiff-appellant was not even a witness in the document when his father who is of low intelligence, illiterate and could not even sign his name, affixed his thumbmark in the document in question. It would appear that the execution of the contract was made behind his back and/or without giving notice to him. Stated differently, if the transaction was on the level, why was not plaintiff-appellant asked to sign as a witness to the document. It may be true that the contract was read to the old man but it is doubtful if he understood the meaning of its contents. The contract was so written that anyone could believe he was only giving his property by way of mortgage, not as a sale. For instance, in paragraph 2 thereof, it reads "... ay isinasangla at patuloyan ipaaari ko sa nasabing magasawa ang lupang nabanggit ko sa itaas, ... ." In some Tagalog provinces the word "Sangla" means "Bilihan Mabibiling Muli" or "Pacto de Retro." By this contract, the vendee-a-retro takes possession of the property as owner until the same is repurchased or redeemed. On the other hand, mortgage is understood as "Prenda."

In the case at bar, defendants-appellees took possession of the property on March 26, 1955 when they started giving Jose Aguinaldo the fifty centavos (P0.50) a day. It would appear then that the money which he has been receiving from the Estebans come from his own property. In effect, there was no consideration for the transfer of the property-be it sale, mortgage or Pacto Comisario. (G.R. No. 27289)

Please note that, in the case cited above, the problem was not only the illiteracy of the seller but also the lack of sufficient consideration to support the contract of sale.

FOR BETTER EXPLANATION, PLEASE SEE: Paras (2008). Civil Code Of The Philippines Annotated By Edgardo L. Paras † Litt. B., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. Associate Justice, Supreme Court (1986-1992). 16th Edition, 2008. Volume V Articles 1458-2270 (Special Contracts).