Monday, March 12, 2012

Dela Cruz vs. Dimaano [A.C. No. 7781 September 12, 2008]

FactsIn their complaint for disbarment against respondent, complainants alleged that on July 16, 2004, respondent notarized a document denominated as Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate with Waiver of Rights purportedly executed by them and their sister, Zenaida V.L. Navarro. According to complainants, respondent had made untruthful statements in the acknowledgment portion of the notarized document when he made it appear, among other things, that complainants "personally came and appeared before him" and that they affixed their signatures on the document in his presence. 

In the process, complainants added, respondent effectively enabled their sister, Navarro, to assume full ownership of their deceased parents' property in and sell the same to the Department of Public Works and Highways. 

The respondent however argued that "he notarized the document in good faith relying on the representation and assurance of Zenaida Navarro that the signatures and the community tax certificates appearing in the document were true and correct." Navarro would not, according to respondent, lie to him having known, and being neighbors of, each other for 30 years. 

IssueWhether or not respondent should be penalized for committing violations of his duties as a notary public. 

HeldYES. Lawyers commissioned as notaries public are mandated to discharge with fidelity the duties of their offices, such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest. It must be remembered that notarization is not a routinary, meaningless act, for notarization converts a private document to a public instrument, making it admissible in evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due execution. A notarized document is by law entitled to full credit upon its face and it is for this reason that notaries public must observe the basic requirements in notarizing documents. Otherwise, the confidence of the public on notarized documents will be eroded.

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