Leonardo v. CA

G.R. No. 125485, 13 September 2004

FACTS:

Petitioner Restituta Leonardo is the only legitimate child of the late Sps. Tomasina Paul and Balbino Leonardo. Private respondents Teodoro, Victor, Corazon, Piedad, et. al, all surnamed Sebastian, are the illegitimate children of Tomasina with Jose Sebastian after she separated from Balbino Leonardo. In 1988, private respondent Corazon Sebastian with her niece and a certain Bitang, came to Restituta’s house to persuade her to sign a deed of extrajudicial partition of the estate of Tomasina Paul and Jose Sebastian. Before signing the document, Restituta allegedly insisted that they wait for her husband Jose Ramos so he could translate the document which was written in English. Subsequently, she proceeded to sign the document even without her husband and without reading the document, on the assurance of private respondent Corazon that she will get her share as a legitimate daughter. Petitioner then asked private respondent Corazon and her companions to wait for her husband so he could read the document. When petitioner’s husband arrived, however, private respondent Corazon and her companions had left without leaving a copy of the document. It was only when petitioner hired a lawyer that they were able to secure a copy and read the contents thereof.

Petitioner refuted private respondents’ claim that they were the legitimate children and sole heirs of Jose Sebastian and Tomasina Paul since the latter were never married to each other, thus, the extrajudicial partition was therefore unlawful and illegal. Petitioner also claimed that her consent was vitiated because she was deceived into signing the extrajudicial settlement. She further denied having appeared before a Judge of  MTC of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan to acknowledge the execution of the extrajudicial partition.

 ISSUE:

Whether the consent given by petitioner to the extrajudicial settlement of the estate was given voluntarily.

RULING:

No. Contracts where consent is given by mistake or because of violence, intimidation, undue influence or fraud are voidable. These circumstances are defects of the will, the existence of which impairs the freedom, intelligence, spontaneity, and voluntariness of the party in giving consent to the agreement. In determining whether consent is vitiated, Courts are given a wide latitude in weighing the facts considering the age, physical infirmity, intelligence, relationship and the conduct of the parties at the time of making the contract and subsequent thereto, irrespective of whether the contract is in a public or private writing.

In this case,  private respondents failed to offer any evidence to prove that the extrajudicial settlement of the estate was explained in a language known to the petitioner, i.e. the Pangasinan dialect. Clearly, petitioner, who only finished Grade 3, was not in a position to give her free, voluntary and spontaneous consent without having the document, which was in English, explained to her in the Pangasinan dialect.

 * Case digest by Vera L. Nataa, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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