Sunday, February 05, 2012

Aquino vs. Pascua, A.C. No. 5095

Facts: For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial Academy, joined by Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants, against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan. In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two documents committed as follows:

(1) He made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one Joseph B. Acorda entering the same as "Doc. No. 1213, Page No. 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998".

(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as "Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.

Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel Beltran, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the last entry therein was Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; and that, therefore, he could not have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998.

Issue: Whether or not the respondent is guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties.

Held: Atty. Pascua is guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-complaints of Joseph B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.

"Misconduct" generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. The term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.

The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa, wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act "constitutes misconduct" and thus imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six months, this being his first administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos, we revoked the notarial commission of Atty. Mario G. Ramos and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating the Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia, however, a lesser penalty of one month suspension from the practice of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for making a false declaration in the document she notarized.

In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascua's first offense, we believe that the imposition of a three-month suspension from the practice of law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.

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