Dear PAO,

My brother tricked me into signing a document, which I later found as a promissory note. The creditor is suing me now. Am I responsible for my brother’s debt even though I did not know the contents of the promissory note I signed?


Dear Amben,

A contract is defined in Article 1305 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. This provision specifies that:

“A contract is a meeting of mind between two people by which one commits itself to the other to give something or to render a service.”

Correlatively, article 1409 of the same law provides:

“The following contracts are non-existent and void from the start: xxx; (2) Those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious; xxx “

The terms of the contract were set out by the court in the Catapang and Garbin v Lipa Bank case (GR 240645, January 27, 2020), where the Supreme Court, through Associate Judge Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, said:

“A contract is an agreement between two people by which one undertakes, with respect to the other, to give something or to render a service. There can be no contract unless all of the following conditions are met: (1) the consent of the contracting parties; (2) certain object which is the object of the contract; and (3) the cause of the obligation that is established. When one element is lacking, no contract can be perfect.

“Consent, in turn, is the acceptance by one of the offer made by the other. It is the meeting of the minds of the parties on the object and cause that constitutes the contract. The agreement must extend to all the points which the parties deem important or there is no consent at all. As a contract is consensual in nature, it is perfect on the competition of offer and acceptance The offer must be certain and the acceptance must be absolute, unconditional and without variation of any kind from the proposal.

“Therefore, when the contracting parties do not agree on the subject of the contract, consent is absent, which renders the contract null and void.”

Applying the above decision to your situation, the promissory note you signed is simulated, so it is void. In addition, consent is also lacking when you signed said document; therefore, there was no perfect contract between you and the creditor. Therefore, you are not responsible for your brother’s debt, and the creditor cannot enforce the promissory note against you.

We hope we have been able to answer your questions. Remember that this advice is based only on the facts you have reported and our appreciation of them. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or developed.

Editor’s Note: Dear PAO is a daily column for the DA’s office. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]