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Notarial Practice

SECTION 231. Title of the chapter Title of the chapter shall be known as the Notarial Law.
ARTICLE I
Appointment and Qualification of Notaries Public
SECTION 232. Appointment of notaries public. Judges of Court of First Instance in the respective
provinces may appoint as many notaries public as the public good requires, and there shall be at least one
for every municipality in each province. Notaries public in the City of Manila shall be appointed by the
Supreme Court or, during vacation, by the Supreme Court judge assigned to vacation duty.
SECTION 233. Qualifications for appointment. To be eligible for appointment as notary public, a person
must be a citizen of the (Philippine Islands) Philippines or of the United States and over twenty-one years
of age. He must, furthermore, be person who has been admitted to the practice of law or who has
completed and passed in the studies of law in a reputable university or school of law, or has passed the
examination for the office of justice of the peace or clerk or deputy clerk of court, or be a person who has
at some time held the office of clerk or deputy clerk of court for a period of not less than two years, or a
person who had qualified for the office of notary public under the Spanish sovereignty.
In the chartered cities and in the capitals of the provinces, where there are two or more lawyers
appointed a notaries public, no person other than a lawyer or a person who had qualified to hold the
office of notary public under the Spanish sovereignty shall hold said office.
In municipalities or (townships) municipal, districts wherein no person reside having the qualifications
hereinbefore specified or having them; refused hold such office, judges of first instance may appoint
other persons temporarily to exercise the office of notary public who have the requisite qualifications of
fitness and morality.

SECTION 234. Disqualification incident to conviction of crime. No person shall be appointed notary
public who has been convicted of any crime implying moral turpitude.
SECTION 235. Restriction on right of certain officials to act as notaries public. Justices of the peace and
clerks of court shall not act as notaries public except in the character of notaries public ex officio.
SECTION 236. When oath of office to be preserved. The oath of office of a notary public in a province
shall be filed and preserved, together with the commission, in the office of the clerk of the Court of First
Instance of the province. The oath of office of a notary public in the City of Manila shall be filed and
preserved, with the commission, in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court.
SECTION 237. Form of commission for notary public. The appointment of a notary public shall be in
writing, signed by the judge, and substantially in the following form:

GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES)
PROVINCE OF ____________________)

This is to certify that ______________________, of the municipality of ____________________________ in
said province, was, on the ________ day of _____________________, anno Domini nineteen hundred and
_____________ appointed by me a notary, public, within and for the said province, for the term ending on
the first day of January, anno Domini nineteen hundred and ________

_______________________

Judge of the Court of First
Instance of said Province

SECTION 238. Certificate of appointment to be forwarded to Bureau of Justice. Clerks of Courts of First
Instance shall make and forward to the Bureau of Justice immediately after commission and oath of office
of any notary public are recorded in said clerks office a certificate of such appointment and the term
office of the appointee. A record shall be kept of all such certificates in the Bureau of Justice.

SECTION 239. Term of office. The term of office of a notary public shall end at the expiration of the two-
year period beginning upon the first day of January of the year in which the appointment is made.


ARTICLE II

Jurisdiction and Powers

SECTION 240. Territorial jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a notary public in a province shall be co-
extensive with the province. The jurisdiction of a notary public in the City of Manila shall be co-extensive
with said city. No notary shall possess authority to do any notarial act beyond the limits of his
jurisdiction.

SECTION 241. Powers of notary public. Every notary public shall have power to administer all oaths
and affirmations provided for by law, in all matters incident to his notarial office, and in the execution of
affidavits, depositions, and other documents requiring an oath, and to receive the proof or
acknowledgment of all writings relating to commerce or navigation, such as bills of sale, bottomries,
mortgages, and hypothecations of ships, vessels, or boats, charter parties of affreightments, letters of
attorney, deeds, mortgages, transfers and assignments of land or buildings, or an interest therein, and
such other writings as are commonly proved or acknowledged before notaries; to act as a magistrate, in
the writing of affidavits or depositions, and to make declarations and certify the truth thereof under his
seal of office, concerning all matters done by him by virtue of his office.

ARTICLE III.
Notaries Public Ex Officio

SECTION 242. Officers acting as notaries public ex officio. Except as otherwise specially provided, the
following officials, and none other, shall be deemed to be notaries public ex officio, and as such they are
authorized to perform, within the limits of their territorial jurisdiction as herein below defined, all the
duties appertaining to the office of notary public:

(a) The Chief of the Division of Archives, Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; the Clerk of the. Supreme
Court, the Clerk of the Court of First Instance of the Ninth Judicial District, the Chief of the General Land
Registration Office, and the Superintendent of the Postal Savings Bank Division, Bureau of Posts when
acting within the limits of the City of Manila.
(b) Clerks of Courts of First Instance outside of the City of Manila, when acting within the judicial
districts to which they respectively pertain.
(c) Justices of the peace, within the limits of the territory over which their jurisdiction as justices of the
peace extends; but auxiliary justices of the peace and other of who are by law vested with the office of
justice of the peace ex officio shall not, solely by reason of such authority, be also entitled to act in the
capacity of notaries ex officio.

(d) Any government officer or employee of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu appointed notary
public ex officio by the Judge of the Court of First Instance, with jurisdiction co-extensive with the
province wherein the appointee is stationed, and for a term of two years beginning upon the first day of
January of the year in which the appointment is made.
The authority conferred in subsections (a) and (b) hereof may, in the absence of the chief or clerk of court,
be exercised by an assistant chief, acting chief, or deputy clerk of court pertaining to the office in question.

SECTION 243. Notary public ex officio required to use register. No person shall do any act in the
capacity of notary public ex officio in cases where full notarial authentication is required unless he shall
have the prescribed notarial register; but the notarial acts of an assistant chief, acting chief, or deputy
clerk shall be entered in the same register as would be used by his principal.

ARTICLE IV

Notarial Seal

SECTION 244. Seal of notary public. Every person appointed to the position of notary public shall have
a seal of office, to be procured at his own expense, which shall be affixed to papers officially signed by
him. It shall be of metal and shall have the name of the province and the words (Philippine Islands)
Philippines and his own-name engraved on the margin thereof, and the words notary, public across
the center. An impression of such seal directly on the paper or parchment on which the writing is had
shall be as valid as if made on wax or wafer.
In the case of the Chief of the General Land Registration Office or other clerk of court acting as notary
public ex officio, it shall suffice to use the official seal of the court to which the officer in question pertains
other officials authorized to act as notaries public ex officio are not required to keep or use a seal, unless
especially so prescribed, by law.

ARTICLE V

Notarial Register

SECTION 245. Notarial register. Every notary public shall keep a register to be known as the notarial
register, wherein record shall be made of all his official acts as notary; and he shall supply a certified copy
of such record, or any part thereof, to any person applying for it and paying the legal fees therefor.
Such register shall be kept in books to be furnished by the Attorney-General to any notary public upon
request and upon payment of the actual cost thereof, but officers exercising the functions of notaries
public ex officio shall be supplied with the register at Government expense. The register shall be duly
paged, and on the first page the Attorney-General shall certify the number of pages of which the book
consist.

SECTION 246. Matters to be entered therein The notary public shall enter in such register, in
chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the
person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, the witnesses, if any, to the signature,
the date of the execution, oath, or acknowledgment of the instrument, the fees collected by hint for his
services as notary in connection therewith, and; when the instrument is a contract, he shall keep a correct
copy thereof as part of his records, and shall likewise enter in said records a brief description of the
substance thereof, and shall give to each entry a consecutive number, beginning with number one in each
calendar year. The notary shall give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him
a number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or
pages of his register on which the same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries.
When a notary public shall protest any draft, bill of exchange, or promissory note, he shall make a full
and true record in his notarial register of all his proceedings in relation thereto, and shall note therein
whether the demand or the sum of money therein mentioned was made, of whom, when, and where;
whether he presented such draft, bill, or note; whether notices were given, to whom, and in what manner;
where the same was made, and when, and to whom, and where directed; and of every other fact touching
the same.
At the end of each week the notary shall certify in his register the number of instruments executed, sworn
to, acknowledged, or protested before him; or if none such, certificate shall show this fact.
A certified copy of each months entries as described in this section and a certified copy of any instrument
acknowledged before them shall within the first ten days of the month next following be forwarded by
the notaries public to the clerk of the Court of First Instance of the province and shall be filed under the
responsibility of such officer: Provided, That if there is no entry to certify for the month, the notary shall
forward a statement to this effect in lieu of the certified copies herein required.


SECTION 247. Disposition of notarial register. Immediately upon his notarial register being filled, and
also within fifteen days after the expiration of his commission, unless reappointed, the notary public shall
forward his notarial register to the clerk of the Court of First Instance of the province or of the City of
Manila, as the case may be, wherein he exercises his office, who shall examine the same and report
thereon to the judge of the Court of First Instance. If the judge finds that no irregularity has been
committed in the keeping of the register, he shall forward the same to the chief of the division of archives,
patents, copyrights, and trademarks. In case the judge finds that irregularities have been committed in
the keeping of the register, he shall refer the matter to the fiscal of the province and in the City of
Manila, to the fiscal of the city for action and the sending of the register to the chief of the division of
archives, patents, copyrights, and trademarks shall be deferred until the termination of the case against
the notary public.




ARTICLE VI
Supervisory Authority of Judges Over Notaries Public

SECTION 248. Supervision of judges of first instance over notaries public. The judge of the Court of
First Instance in each judicial district shall at all times exercise supervision over the notaries public within
his district and shall keep himself informed of the manner in which they perform their duties by personal
inspection wherever possible, or from reports which he may require from them, or from any other
available source.
In the City of Manila such supervision shall be exercised by one of the Judges of the Court of First
Instance of the (Ninth) Fourth Judicial District (City of Manila) to be thereunto assigned by the judges of
the nine branches of said court.

SECTION 249. Grounds for revocation of commission. The following derelictions of duty on the part of
a notary public, shall, in the discretion of the proper judge of first instance, be sufficient ground for the
revocation of his commission:
(a) The failure of the notary to keep a notarial register.
(b) The failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching his
notarial acts in the manner required by law.
(c) The failure of the notary to send the copy of the entries to the proper clerk of Court of First Instance
within the first ten days of the month next following.
(d) The failure of the notary to affix to acknowledgments the date of expiration of his commission, as
required by law.
(e) The failure of the notary to forward his notarial register, when filled, to the proper clerk of court.
(f) The failure of the notary to make the proper notation regarding cedula certificates.
(g) The failure of a notary to make report; within a reasonable time, to the proper judge of first instance
concerning the performance of his duties, as may be required by such judge.
(h) Any other dereliction or act which shall appear to the judge to constitute good cause for removal.

ARTICLE VII

Miscellaneous Provisions

SECTION 250. Affixing date of expiration of commission. Notaries public shall affix to all
acknowledgments taken and certified by them, according to law, a statement of the date on which their
commissions expire.
SECTION 251. Requirement as to notation of payment of (cedula) residence tax. Every contract, deed, or
other document acknowledged before a notary public shall have certified thereon that the parties thereto
have presented their proper (cedula) residence certificates or are exempt from the (cedula) residence tax,
and there shall be entered by the notary public as a part of such certification the number, place of issue,
and date of each (cedula) residence certificate as aforesaid.
SECTION 252. Compensation of notaries public. No fee, compensation, or reward of any sort, except
such as is expressly prescribed and allowed by law, shall be collected or received for any service rendered
by a notary public. Such moneys collected by notaries public proper shall belong to them personally.
Officers acting as notaries public ex officio shall charge for their services the fees prescribed by law and
account therefor as for Government funds.




RA 7160 Local Government Code
Section 157. Individuals Liable to Community Tax. - Every inhabitant of the Philippines eighteen (18) years
of age or over who has been regularly employed on a wage or salary basis for at least thirty (30)
consecutive working days during any calendar year, or who is engaged in business or occupation, or who
owns real property with an aggregate assessed value of One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or more, or who
is required by law to file an income tax return shall pay an annual additional tax of Five pesos (P5.00) and
an annual additional tax of One peso (P1.00) for every One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) of income
regardless of whether from business, exercise of profession or from property which in no case shall
exceed Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00).
In the case of husband and wife, the additional tax herein imposed shall be based upon the total property
owned by them and the total gross receipts or earnings derived by them.
Section 158. Juridical Persons Liable to Community Tax. - Every corporation no matter how created or
organized, whether domestic or resident foreign, engaged in or doing business in the Philippines shall
pay an annual community tax of Five hundred pesos (P500.00) and an annual additional tax, which, in no
case, shall exceed Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) in accordance with the following schedule:
(1) For every Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) worth of real property in the Philippines owned by
it during the preceding year based on the valuation used for the payment of real property tax
under existing laws, found in the assessment rolls of the city or municipality where the real
property is situated - Two pesos (P2.00); and
(2) For every Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) of gross receipts or earnings derived by it from its
business in the Philippines during the preceding year - Two pesos (P2.00).
The dividends received by a corporation from another corporation however shall, for the purpose
of the additional tax, be considered as part of the gross receipts or earnings of said corporation.
Section 159. Exemptions. - The following are exempt from the community tax:
(1) Diplomatic and consular representatives; and
(2) Transient visitors when their stay in the Philippines does not exceed three (3) months.
Section 160. Place of Payment. - The community tax shall be paid in the place of residence of the
individual, or in the place where the principal office of the juridical entity is located.
Section 161. Time for Payment; Penalties for Delinquency. -
(a) The community tax shall accrue on the first (1st) day of January of each year which shall be
paid not later than the last day of February of each year. If a person reaches the age of eighteen
(18) years or otherwise loses the benefit of exemption on or before the last day of June, he shall be
liable for the community tax on the day he reaches such age or upon the day the exemption ends.
However, if a person reaches the age of eighteen (18) years or loses the benefit of exemption on or
before the last day of March, he shall have twenty (20) days to pay the community tax without
becoming delinquent.
Persons who come to reside in the Philippines or reach the age of eighteen (18) years on or after
the first (1st) day of July of any year, or who cease to belong to an exempt class or after the same
date, shall not be subject to the community tax for that year.
(b) Corporations established and organized on or before the last day of June shall be liable for the
community tax for that year. But corporations established and organized on or before the last day
of March shall have twenty (20) days within which to pay the community tax without becoming
delinquent. Corporations established and organized on or after the first day of July shall not be
subject to the community tax for that year.
If the tax is not paid within the time prescribed above, there shall be added to the unpaid amount an
interest of twenty-four percent (24%) per annum from the due date until it is paid.
Section 162. Community Tax Certificate. - A community tax certificate shall be issued to every person or
corporation upon payment of the community tax. A community tax certificate may also be issued to any
person or corporation not subject to the community tax upon payment of One peso (P1.00).
Section 163. Presentation of Community Tax Certificate On Certain Occasions. -
(a) When an individual subject to the community tax acknowledges any document before a
notary public, takes the oath of office upon election or appointment to any position in the
government service; receives any license, certificate. or permit from any public authority; pays
any tax or free; receives any money from any public fund; transacts other official business; or
receives any salary or wage from any person or corporation with whom such transaction is made
or business done or from whom any salary or wage is received to require such individual to
exhibit the community tax certificate.
The presentation of community tax certificate shall not be required in connection with the
registration of a voter.
(b) When, through its authorized officers, any corporation subject to the community tax receives
any license, certificate, or permit from any public authority, pays any tax or fee, receives money
from public funds, or transacts other official business, it shall be the duty of the public official
with whom such transaction is made or business done, to require such corporation to exhibit the
community tax certificate.
(c) The community tax certificate required in the two preceding paragraphs shall be the one
issued for the current year, except for the period from January until the fifteenth (15th) of April
each year, in which case, the certificate issued for the preceding year shall suffice.


SEC. 8. Sections 41 and 42, Chapter 10, Book I of the same
code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:


SEC. 41. Officers Authorized to Administer Oaths.
The following officers have general authority toadminister oaths: President; Vice President,
Membersand Secretaries of both Houses of Congress; Membersof the Judiciary; Secretaries of
Departments; provincialgovernors and lieutenant-governors; city mayors;municipal mayors; bureau
directors; regional directors;clerks of court; registrars of deeds; other civilianofficers in the public service
of the government of thePhilippines whose appointments are vested in thePresident and are subject to
confirmation by the
Commission on Appointments; all other constitutionalofficers; PAO lawyers in connection with
theperformance of duty; and notaries public.

Sec. 42. Duty to Administer Oaths. Officersauthorized to administer oaths, with the exception ofnotaries
public, municipal judges and clerks of courtsare not obliged to administer oaths or executecertificates
save in matters of official business or inrelation to their functions as such; and with theexception of
notaries public, the officer performingthe service in those matters shall charge no fee, unlessspecifically
authorized by law.




Republic Act No. 6733 July 25, 1989
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 21, TITLE I, BOOK I OF THE REVISED ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
OF 1987, GRANTING MEMBERS OF BOTH HOUSES OF THE CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES
THE GENERAL AUTHORITY TO ADMINISTER OATHS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled::
Section 1. Section 21 of the Revised Administrative Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
"SECTION 21. Officials authorized to administer oath. - The following officers have general authority
to administer oaths, to wit:
"President; Vice-President; Members and Secretaries of both Houses of the Congress; Members of
the Judiciary; Secretaries of Departments; provincial governors and lieutenant-governors; city
mayors; municipal mayors; bureau directors; regional directors; clerks of courts; registrars of
deeds; and other civilian officers in the Philippine public service whose appointments are vested
in the President of the Philippines and are subject to confirmation by the Commission of
Appointments; all other constitutional officers; and notaries public. A person who by authority of
law shall serve in the capacity of the officers mentioned above shall possess the same power."
Section 2. Section 41 of the Administrative Code of 1987 is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Sec. 41. Officers Authorized to Administer Oath. - The following officers have general authority to
administer oaths: President; Vice-President; Members and Secretaries of both Houses of the
Congress; Members of the Judiciary; Secretaries of Departments; provincial governors and
lieutenant-governors; city mayors; municipal mayors; bureau directors; regional directors; clerks
of courts; registrars of deeds; other civilian officers in the public service of the government of the
Philippines whose appointments are vested in the President and are subject to confirmation by
the Commission on Appointments; all other constitutional officers; and notaries public."
Section 3. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as to disauthorize any person now authorized to
administer oaths under existing laws.
Section 4. The Members and Secretaries of both Houses of Congress may delegate the authority to
committee secretaries or any staffer thereof in the conduct of a pending inquiry or investigation.
Section 5. Those authorized to administer oaths under this Act shall not be required to keep a register of
the oaths they administer nor keep or submit copies of the same, except in the case of notaries public, or
as otherwise required by existing laws.
Section 6. This Act shall take effect upon its publication in at least one (1) national newspaper of general
circulation, and as to the amendments of Section 41 of the Administrative Code of 1987, upon the
effectivity of said Code.

CIRCULAR NO. 1-90 February 26, 1990
TO: ALL JUDGES OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS (METC), MUNICIPAL
TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES (MTCC), MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS (MTC),
MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS (MCTC) SHARI'A COURTS, AND THE
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP)
SUBJECT: POWER OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT JUDGES AND MUNICIPAL
CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT JUDGES TO ACT AS NOTARIES PUBLIC EX OFFICIO
For the information and guidance of all concerned, quoted hereunder, is the Resolution of the Court En
Banc, dated December 19, 1989, in Administrative Matter No. 89-11-1303 MTC, "Re: Request for
clarification on the power of municipal trial court judges and municipal circuit trial court judges to act as
Notaries Public Ex Officio":
Acting on a query regarding the power of municipal trial court judges and municipal
circuit trial court judges to act in the capacity of notaries public ex officio in the light of the
1989 Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court Resolved to issue a clarification on the matter.
Municipal trial court (MTC) and municipal circuit trial court (MCTC) judges are
empowered to perform the function of notaries public ex officio under Section 76 of
Republic Act No. 296, as amended (otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948) and
Section 242 of the Revised Administrative Code. But the Court hereby lays down the
following qualifications on the scope of this power:
MTC and MCTC judges may act as notaries public ex officio in the notarization of
documents connected only with the exercise of their official functions and duties [Borne
v. Mayo, Adm. Matter No. 1765-CFI, October 17, 1980. 100 SCRA 314; Penera v.
Dalocanog, Adm. Matter No. 2113-MJ, April 22, 1981, 104 SCRA 193.] They may not, as
notaries public ex officio, undertake the preparation and acknowledgment of private
documents, contracts and other acts of conveyances which bear no direct relation to the
performance of their functions as judges. The 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct not only
enjoins judges to regulate their extra-judicial activities in order to minimize the risk of
conflict with their judicial duties, but also prohibits them from engaging in the private
practice of law (Canon 5 and Rule 5.07).
However, the Court, taking judicial notice of the fact that there are still municipalities
which have neither lawyers nor notaries public, rules that MTC and MCTC judges
assigned to municipalities or circuits with no lawyers or notaries public may, in the
capacity as notaries public ex officio, perform any act within the competency of a regular
notary public, provided that: (1) all notarial fees charged be for the account of the
Government and turned over to the municipal treasurer (Lapena, Jr. vs. Marcos, Adm.
Matter No. 1969-MJ, June 29, 1982, 114 SCRA 572); and, (2) certification be made in the
notarized documents attesting to the lack of any lawyer or notary public in such
municipality or circuit.



EN BANC
A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC
Re: 2004 RULES ON NOTARIAL PRACTICE
For your information, is a resolution of this Court dated August 15, 2006.
A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC (Re: 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice), The Court Resolved to:
x x x
(f) AUTHORIZE the Clerks of Court of the Regional Trial Courts to notarize not only documents
relating to the exercise of their official functions but also private documents, subject to
the following conditions: (i) all notarial fees charged in accordance with Section 7(o) of
the Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, and, with respect to private documents, in accordance
with the notarial fee that the Supreme Court may prescribe in compliance with Section 1,
Rule V of the Rules on Notarial Practice, shall be for the account of the Judiciary and (ii)
they certify in the notarized documents that there are no notaries public within the
territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court
























Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila


THIRD DIVISION

ADELAIDA MENESES (deceased),
substituted by her heir MARILYN M.
CARBONEL-GARCIA,
Petitioner,


- versus -



ROSARIO G. VENTUROZO,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 172196

Present:

VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,
PERALTA,
ABAD,
MENDOZA, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

October 19, 2011
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ x


D E C I S I O N


PERALTA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari1[1] of the Court of Appeals Decision dated October 27,
2005 in CA-G.R. CV No. 78217 and its Resolution dated April 5, 2006, denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration.

The Court of Appeals Decision reversed and set aside the Decision of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Dagupan City, Branch 40 in Civil Case No. D-9040, as the appellate court declared respondent
Rosario G. Venturozo the owner of the land in dispute, and ordered petitioner Adelaida Meneses to
vacate and surrender her possession thereof to respondent.

The facts are as follows:

On June 8, 1988, plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, respondent herein, filed a Complaint2[2] for
ownership, possession x x x and damages in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City against
defendant Adelaida Meneses, petitioner herein, alleging that she (plaintiff) is the absolute owner of an
untitled coconut land, containing an area of 2,109 square meters, situated at Embarcadero, Mangaldan,
Pangasinan, and declared under Tax Declaration No. 239. Plaintiff alleged that she purchased the
property from the spouses Basilio de Guzman and Crescencia Abad on January 31, 1973 as evidenced by
a Deed of Absolute Sale,3[3] and that the vendors, in turn, purchased the property from defendant as
evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale4[4] dated June 20, 1966. Plaintiff alleged that she has been in
possession of the land until May 1983 when defendant with some armed men grabbed possession of the
land and refused to vacate despite repeated demands prompting her to engage the services of counsel.
Plaintiff prayed that after preliminary hearing, a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction be issued; and
that after hearing, a decision be rendered declaring her as the owner of the property in dispute, ordering
defendant to vacate the property in question and to pay her P5,000.00 as attorneys fees; P1,000.00 as
litigation expenses; P10,000.00 as damages and to pay the costs of suit.


1[1] Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
2[2] Docketed as Civil Case No. D-9040, records, p. 1.
3[3] Exhibit B, folder of exhibits, p. 2.
4[4] Exhibit A, id. at 1.
In her Answer,5[5] defendant Adelaida Meneses stated that plaintiff is the daughter of Basilio de
Guzman, the vendee in the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 that was purportedly executed by
her (defendant) covering the subject property. Defendant alleged that she never signed any Deed of
Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, and that the said deed is a forgery. Defendant also alleged that she
never appeared before any notary public, and she did not obtain a residence certificate; hence, her
alleged sale of the subject property to Basilio de Guzman is null and void ab initio. Consequently, the
Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 31, 1973, executed by Basilio de Guzman in favor of plaintiff,
covering the subject property, is likewise null and void. Defendant stated that she acquired the subject
property from her deceased father and she has been in possession of the land for more than 30 years in
the concept of owner. Plaintiffs allegation that she (defendant) forcibly took possession of the land is a
falsehood. Defendant stated that this is the fourth case the plaintiff filed against her concerning the land
in question.

In her Counterclaim, defendant stated that in view of the nullity of the falsified Deed of Absolute
Sale of the subject property, and the fact that plaintiff and her father Basilio de Guzman had never been in
actual possession of the property, plaintiff is under legal obligation to execute a deed of reconveyance
over the said property in her favor.

The issue before the trial court was whether the sale made by defendant Adelaida Meneses in
favor of plaintiffs father, Basilio de Guzman, was valid.6[6]

On July 18, 1991, the RTC of Dagupan City, Branch 40 (trial court) rendered a Decision in favor of
defendant Adelaida Meneses. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:


5[5] Records, p. 12.
6[6] Pre-Trial Order, id. at 18.
1) Declaring the Deed of Absolute and Definite Sale dated June 20, 1966 (Exhibit
B) and the Deed of Absolute and Definite Sale dated January 31, 1973 (Exhibit
A) null and void ab initio;

2) Declaring the defendant Adelaida Meneses as the owner of the property in
question;

3) Ordering the plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo to execute a Deed of Reconveyance
in favor of the defendant Adelaida Meneses over the property in question
described in paragraph 2 of the complaint;

4) Ordering the plaintiff to pay to the defendant P10,000.00 as damages; and
P1,000.00, as litigation expenses.

SO ORDERED.7[7]


The trial court found that defendant Adelaida Meneses inherited the land in dispute from her
father, Domingo Meneses; that she did not sell her property to Basilio de Guzman in 1966; and that the
signature of Adelaida Meneses on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 is a forgery. The trial
court stated that the signature of Adelaida Meneses, as appearing on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated
June 20, 1966, is very much different from her specimen signatures and those appearing in the records of
Civil Case No. 1096 in the Municipal Trial Court of Mangaldan. It held that since there was no valid
transfer of the property by Adelaida Meneses to Basilio de Guzman, the conveyance of the same
property in 1973 by Basilio de Guzman to his daughter, plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, was also invalid.
The trial court stated that the claim of plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, that her parents, Spouses Basilio
and Crescencia de Guzman, purchased from defendant Adelaida Meneses the subject property in 1966,
is negated by defendants continued possession of the land and she gathered the products therefrom.

Plaintiff appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals.

On October 27, 2005, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision reversing the decision of the trial
court. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts decision reads:

7[7] Rollo, pp. 60-61.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan
City (Branch 40) is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one rendered declaring
plaintiff-appellant the owner of the subject land and ordering defendant-appellee to
vacate and surrender possession thereof to the former.8[8]


The Court of Appeals stated that appellee Adelaida Meneses failed to prove by clear and
convincing evidence that her signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 was a forgery.
Instead, she admitted on direct examination that her signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale was genuine,
thus:

Q. I am showing to you Exhibit 6 and Exhibit A for the plaintiff a Deed of Absolute
Sale o[f] Real Property of one (1) Adelaida Meneses in favor of Basilio de Guzman.
Will you examine this if you know this Deed of Absolute Sale?
A. I do not know this document, sir.

Q. There is a signature over the name of the vendor Adelaida Meneses which was
previously marked as Exhibit 6-a and Exhibit A-1 for the plaintiff, will you
examine this signature, if do you (sic) know this signature?
A. This is my signature, sir.9[9]


According to the Court of Appeals, such admission is binding on her, there being no showing
that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.10[10]








The Court of Appeals also stated that mere variance of signatures cannot be considered as
conclusive proof that the same were forged, as forgery cannot be presumed.11[11] Appellee Adelaida
Meneses should have produced specimen signatures appearing on documents executed in or about the
year 1966 for a better comparison and analysis.12[12]

The Court of Appeals held that a notarized document, like the questioned Deed of Absolute
Sale dated June 20, 1966, has in its favor the presumption of regularity, and to overcome the same,
there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant; otherwise, the
document should be upheld.13[13] Moreover, Atty. Abelardo G. Biala the notary public before whom
the questioned Deed of Sale was acknowledged testified and confirmed its genuineness and due
execution, particularly the signature in question. The appellate court stated that as against appellee
Adelaida Meneses version, Atty. Bialas testimony, that appellee appeared before him and
acknowledged that the questioned deed was her free and voluntary act, is more credible. The testimony
of a notary public enjoys greater credence than that of an ordinary witness.14[14]
The Court of Appeals held that appellee Adelaida Meneses failed to present clear and convincing
evidence to overcome the evidentiary force of the questioned Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 1966,
which appears on its face to have been executed with all the formalities required by law.

Adelaida Meneses motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit by the Court of
Appeals in a Resolution15[15] dated April 5, 2006.











Hence, Adelaida Meneses, substituted by her heir, filed this petition raising this lone issue:

I
WHETHER THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, WHICH
REVERSED THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, IS IN KEEPING
WITH BOTH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE.16[16]


Petitioner contends that her statement, made during the course of her testimony in the trial court,
was taken out of context by respondent to be used merely as an argumentative point. The examining
lawyer used the words, Do you know this signature? viz.:

Q. I am showing to you Exhibit 6 and Exhibit A for the plaintiff a Deed of Absolute
Sale o[f] Real Property of one (1) Adelaida Meneses in favor of Basilio de Guzman.
Will you examine this if you know this Deed of Absolute Sale?
A. I do not know this document, sir.

Q. There is a signature over the name of the vendor Adelaida Meneses which was
previously marked as Exhibit 6-a and Exhibit A-1 for the plaintiff, will you
examine this signature, if do you (sic) know this signature?
A. This is my signature, sir.17[17]


Petitioner contends that in the above-quoted transcript of stenographic notes, she was merely
asked if she was cognizant of such a signature as hers or whether the signature appearing on the






questioned document was similar to that of her signature, and not if she was the one who indeed affixed
such signature on the said deed of sale.

She avers that the general rule that a judicial admission is conclusive upon the party invoking it
and does not require proof admits of two exceptions: (1) when it is shown that the admission was made
through palpable mistake; and (2) when it is shown that no such admission was in fact made. The latter
exception allows one to contradict an admission by denying that he made such an admission. For
instance, if a party invokes an admission by an adverse party, but cites the admission out of context,
then the one making the admission may show that he made no such admission, or that his admission was
taken out of context.18[18] This may be interpreted as to mean not in the sense in which the admission is
made to appear.19[19]
Petitioner also contends that a comparison of the signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated
June 20, 1966 and her specimen signatures, as well as her genuine signature on pleadings, were made by
the trial court, and it ruled that her signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 was a
forgery. She submits that the trial courts evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is entitled to great respect,20[20] and the appellate court should have given weight to the
trial courts findings that her signature on the said Deed of Absolute Sale was a forgery.

The petition is meritorious.








The rule is that the jurisdiction of the Court over appealed cases from the Court of Appeals is
limited to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court, as its
findings of fact are deemed conclusive.21[21] Thus, this Court is not duty-bound to analyze and weigh
all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below.22[22] However, this rule admits
exceptions,23[23] such as when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to the findings
and conclusions of the trial court24[24] like in this case.

The necessity of a public document for contracts which transmit or extinguish real rights over
immovable property, as mandated by Article 1358 of the Civil Code,25[25] is only for convenience; it is
not essential for validity or enforceability.26[26] As notarized documents, Deeds of Absolute Sale carry
evidentiary weight conferred upon them with respect to their due execution27[27] and enjoy the
presumption of regularity which may only be rebutted by evidence so clear, strong and convincing as
to exclude all controversy as to falsity.28[28] The presumptions that attach to notarized documents can

















be affirmed only so long as it is beyond dispute that the notarization was regular.29[29] A defective
notarization will strip the document of its public character and reduce it to a private instrument.30[30]
Consequently, when there is a defect in the notarization of a document, the clear and convincing
evidentiary standard normally attached to a duly-notarized document is dispensed with, and the
measure to test the validity of such document is preponderance of evidence.31[31]

In this case, it should be pointed out that contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, the
Deed of Sale dated June 20, 1966 did not comply with the formalities required by law, specifically Act
No. 496,32[32] otherwise known as The Land Registration Act, which took effect on January 1, 1903, as
Section 127 of the Act provides:

FORMS
Section 127. Deeds, conveyances, mortgages, leases, releases, and discharges
affecting lands, whether registered under this Act or unregistered, shall be sufficient in
law when made substantially in accordance with the following forms, and shall be as
effective to convey, encumber, lease, release, discharge, or bind the lands as though
made in accordance with the more prolix form heretofore in use: Provided, That every
such instrument shall be signed by the person or persons executing the same, in the
presence of two witnesses, who shall sign the instrument as witnesses to the execution
thereof, and shall be acknowledged to be his or their free act and deed by the person or
persons executing the same, before the judge of a court of record or clerk of a court of
record, or a notary public, or a justice of the peace, who shall certify to such
acknowledgment x x x.33[33]













In the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, the Notary Public signed his name as one of the
two witnesses to the execution of the said deed; hence, there was actually only one witness thereto.
Moreover, the residence certificate of petitioner was issued to petitioner and then it was given to the
Notary Public the day after the execution of the deed of sale and notarization; hence, the number of
petitioners residence certificate and the date of issuance (June 21, 1966) thereof was written on the Deed
of Absolute Sale by the Notary Public on June 21, 1966, after the execution and notarization of the said
deed on June 20, 1966.34[34] Considering the defect in the notarization, the Deed of Absolute Sale
dated June 20, 1966 cannot be considered a public document, but only a private document,35[35] and
the evidentiary standard of its validity shall be based on preponderance of evidence.

Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides that before any private document offered as
authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved either: (a) by anyone
who saw the document executed or written; or (b) by evidence of the genuineness of the signature or
handwriting of the maker.

In regard to the genuineness of petitioners signature appearing on the Deed of Absolute Sale
dated June 20, 1966,36[36] the Court agrees with the trial court that her signature therein is very much
different from her specimen signatures37[37] and those appearing in the pleadings38[38] of other cases
filed against her, even considering the difference of 17 years when the specimen signatures were made.











Hence, the Court rules that petitioners signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 is a
forgery.

The Court agrees with petitioner that her admission was taken out of context, considering that in
her Answer39[39] to the Complaint, she stated that the alleged Deed of Sale purportedly executed by her
in favor of Basilio de Guzman is a forgery; that she never signed the said Deed of Sale; that she did not
appear personally before the Notary Public; and that she did not secure the residence certificate
mentioned in the said Deed of Sale. She also testified that she never sold her land to Basilio de
Guzman;40[40] that she never met the Notary Public, Attorney Abelardo Biala,41[41] and that she did not
meet Basilio de Guzman on June 20, 1966.42[42] The trial court found petitioner and her testimony to be
credible, and declared the Deed of Sale dated June 20, 1966 null and void ab initio. These circumstances
negate the said admission.

The Court finds the Notary Publics testimony self-serving and unreliable, because although
he testified that petitioner was the one who submitted her residence certificate to him on June 21,
1966,43[43] the next day after the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed on June 20, 1966, Crescencia de
Guzman, respondents mother, testified that she and her husband got the residence certificate from
petitioner and gave it to the Notary Public on June 21, 1966.44[44] Thus, it is doubtful whether the












Notary Public really knew the identity of the vendor who signed the Deed of Absolute Sale45[45]
dated June 20, 1966.

The Court notes that the trial court found petitioner and her testimony to be credible. It is a well-
settled doctrine that findings of trial courts on the credibility of witnesses deserve a high degree of
respect.46[46] Having observed the deportment of witnesses during the trial, the trial judge is in a better
position to determine the issue of credibility.47[47]

In fine, the preponderance of evidence is with petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated October 27,
2005 and its Resolution dated April 5, 2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 78217 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE,
and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 40 in Civil Case No. D-9040 is
hereby REINSTATED.

























SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 129416. November 25, 2004]
ZENAIDA B. TIGNO, IMELDA B. TIGNO and ARMI B. TIGNO, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES ESTAFINO
AQUINO and FLORENTINA AQUINO and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
TINGA, J.:
The controversy in the present petition hinges on the admissibility of a single document, a deed of sale
involving interest over real property, notarized by a person of questionable capacity. The assailed
ruling of the Court of Appeals, which overturned the findings of fact of the Regional Trial Court, relied
primarily on the presumption of regularity attaching to notarized documents with respect to its due
execution. We conclude instead that the document has not been duly notarized and accordingly reverse
the Court of Appeals.
The facts are as follow:
On 11 January 1980, respondent spouses Estafino and Florentina Aquino (the Aquinos) filed a complaint
for enforcement of contract and damages against Isidro Bustria (Bustria).[1] The complaint sought to
enforce an alleged sale by Bustria to the Aquinos of a one hundred twenty thousand (120,000) square
meter fishpond located in Dasci, Pangasinan. The property was not registered either under the Land
Registration Act or under the Spanish Mortgage Law, though registrable under Act No. 3344.[2] The
conveyance was covered by a Deed of Sale dated 2 September 1978.
Eventually, Bustria and the Aquinos entered into a compromise agreement, whereby Bustria agreed to
recognize the validity of the sale, and the Aquinos in turn agreed to grant to Bustria the right to
repurchase the same property after the lapse of seven (7) years.
Upon submission, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch VII, approved and incorporated the
compromise agreement in a Decision which it rendered on 7 September 1981.
Bustria died in October of 1986.[3] On 1 December 1989, petitioner Zenaida B. Tigno (Tigno), in
substitution of her deceased father Isidro Bustria,[4] attempted to repurchase the property by filing a
Motion for Consignation. She deposited the amount of Two Hundred Thirty Thousand Pesos
(P200,000.00) with the trial court, now Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 55 at Alaminos, Pangasinan.
On 18 December 1989, the Aquinos filed an opposition, arguing that the right to repurchase was not yet
demandable and that Tigno had failed to make a tender of payment. In an Order dated 10 October
1999, the RTC denied the Motion for Consignation.[5]
In June of 1991, Tigno filed a Motion for a Writ of Execution, which was likewise opposed by the Aquinos,
and denied by the RTC. Then, on 6 September 1991, Tigno filed an action for Revival of Judgment,[6]
seeking the revival of the decision in Civil Case No. A-1257, so that it could be executed accordingly.[7]
The Aquinos filed an answer, wherein they alleged that Bustria had sold his right to repurchase the
property to them in a deed of sale dated 17 October 1985.[8]
Among the witnesses presented by the Aquinos during trial were Jesus De Francia (De Francia), the
instrumental witness to the deed of sale, and former Judge Franklin Cario (Judge Cario), who
notarized the same. These two witnesses testified as to the occasion of the execution and signing of the
deed of sale by Bustria. Thereafter, in their Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence, the Aquinos offered for
admission as their Exhibit No. 8, the deed of sale (Deed of Sale)[9] purportedly executed by Bustria. The
admission of the Deed of Sale was objected to by Tigno on the ground that it was a false and fraudulent
document which had not been acknowledged by Bustria as his own; and that its existence was suspicious,
considering that it had been previously unknown, and not even presented by the Aquinos when they
opposed Tignos previous Motion for Consignation.[10]
In an Order dated 6 April 1994, the RTC refused to admit the Deed of Sale in evidence.[11] A Motion for
Reconsideration praying for the admission of said exhibit was denied in an Order dated 27 April 1994.[12]
Then, on 18 August 1994, a Decision was rendered by the RTC in favor of Tigno. The RTC therein
expressed doubts as to the authenticity of the Deed of Sale, characterizing the testimonies of De
Francia and Cario as conflicting.[13] The RTC likewise observed that nowhere in the alleged deed of
sale was there any statement that it was acknowledged by Bustria;[14] that it was suspicious that
Bustria was not assisted or represented by his counsel in connection with the preparation and
execution of the deed of sale[15] or that Aquino had raised the matter of the deed of sale in his previous
Opposition to the Motion for Consignation.[16] The RTC then stressed that the previous Motion for Execution
lodged by Tigno had to be denied since more than five (5) years had elapsed from the date the judgment
in Civil Case No. A-1257 had become final and executory; but the judgment could be revived by action
such as the instant complaint. Accordingly, the RTC ordered the revival of the judgment dated 7
September 1981 in Civil Case No. A-1257.[17]
The Aquinos interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.[18] In the meantime, the RTC allowed the
execution pending appeal of its Decision.[19] On 23 December 1996, the Court of Appeals Tenth Division
promulgated a Decision[20] reversing and setting aside the RTC Decision. The appellate court ratiocinated
that there were no material or substantial inconsistencies between the testimonies of Cario and De
Francia that would taint the document with doubtful authenticity; that the absence of the
acknowledgment and substitution instead of a jurat did not render the instrument invalid; and that the
non-assistance or representation of Bustria by counsel did not render the document null and
ineffective.[21] It was noted that a notarized document carried in its favor the presumption of regularity
with respect to its due execution, and that there must be clear, convincing and more than merely
preponderant evidence to contradict the same. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that the RTC erred
in refusing to admit the Deed of Sale, and that the document extinguished the right of Bustrias heirs to
repurchase the property.
After the Court of Appeals denied Tignos Motion for Reconsideration,[22] the present petition was filed
before this Court. Tigno imputes grave abuse of discretion and misappreciation of facts to the Court of
Appeals when it admitted the Deed of Sale. He also argues that the appellate court should have declared
the Deed of Sale as a false, fraudulent and unreliable document not supported by any consideration at all.
The general thrusts of the arguments posed by Tigno are factually based. As such, they could normally
lead to the dismissal of this Petition for Review. However, while this Court is not ordinarily a trier of
facts,[23] factual review may be warranted in instances when the findings of the trial court and the
intermediate appellate court are contrary to each other.[24] Moreover, petitioner raises a substantial
argument regarding the capacity of the notary public, Judge Cario, to notarize the document. The
Court of Appeals was unfortunately silent on that matter, but this Court will take it up with
definitiveness.
The notarial certification of the Deed of Sale reads as follows:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES)
PROVINCE OF PANGASINAN ) S.S.
MUNICIPALITY OF ALAMINOS )
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO before me this 17
th
day of October 1985 at Alaminos, Pangasinan both
parties known to me to be the same parties who executed the foregoing instrument.
FRANKLIN CARIO
Ex-Officio Notary Public
Judge, M.T.C.
Alaminos, Pangasinan
There are palpable errors in this certification. Most glaringly, the document is certified by way of a jurat
instead of an acknowledgment. A jurat is a distinct creature from an acknowledgment. An
acknowledgment is the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or
court and declaring it to be his act or deed; while a jurat is that part of an affidavit where the officer
certifies that the same was sworn before him.[25] Under Section 127 of the Land Registration Act,[26]
which has been replicated in Section 112 of Presidential Decree No. 1529,[27] the Deed of Sale should have
been acknowledged before a notary public.[28]
But there is an even more substantial defect in the notarization, one which is determinative of this
petition. This pertains to the authority of Judge Franklin Cario to notarize the Deed of Sale.
It is undisputed that Franklin Cario at the time of the notarization of the Deed of Sale, was a sitting judge
of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Alaminos.[29] Petitioners point out, citing Tabao v. Asis,[30] that
municipal judges may not undertake the preparation and acknowledgment of private documents,
contracts, and other acts of conveyance which bear no relation to the performance of their functions as
judges.[31] In response, respondents claim that the prohibition imposed on municipal court judges from
notarizing documents took effect only in December of 1989, or four years after the Deed of Sale was
notarized by Cario.[32]
Respondents contention is erroneous. Municipal Trial Court (MTC) and Municipal Circuit Trial Court
(MCTC) judges are empowered to perform the functions of notaries public ex officio under Section 76 of
Republic Act No. 296, as amended (otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948) and Section 242 of the
Revised Administrative Code.[33] However, as far back as 1980 in Borre v. Moya,[34] the Court
explicitly declared that municipal court judges such as Cario may notarize only documents connected
with the exercise of their official duties.[35] The Deed of Sale was not connected with any official
duties of Judge Cario, and there was no reason for him to notarize it. Our observations as to the errant
judge in Borre are pertinent in this case, considering that Judge Cario identified himself in the Deed of
Sale as Ex-Officio Notary Public, Judge, MTC:
[A notary ex officio] should not compete with private law practitioners or regular notaries in
transacting legal conveyancing business.
In the instant case, it was not proper that a city judge should notarize documents involving private
transactions and sign the document in this wise: "GUMERSINDO ARCILLA, Notary Public Ex-Officio,
City Judge" (p. 16, Rollo, Annex D of Complaint). In doing so, he obliterated the distinction between a
regular notary and a notary ex officio.[36]
There are possible grounds for leniency in connection with this matter, as Supreme Court Circular No. I-
90 permits notaries public ex officio to perform any act within the competency of a regular notary public
provided that certification be made in the notarized documents attesting to the lack of any lawyer or
notary public in such municipality or circuit. Indeed, it is only when there are no lawyers or notaries
public that the exception applies.[37] The facts of this case do not warrant a relaxed attitude towards
Judge Carios improper notarial activity. There was no such certification in the Deed of Sale. Even if one
was produced, we would be hard put to accept the veracity of its contents, considering that Alaminos,
Pangasinan, now a city,[38] was even then not an isolated backwater town and had its fair share of
practicing lawyers.
There may be sufficient ground to call to task Judge Cario, who ceased being a judge in 1986, for his
improper notarial activity. Perhaps though, formal sanction may no longer be appropriate considering
Judge Carios advanced age, assuming he is still alive.[39] However, this Decision should again serve as
an affirmation of the rule prohibiting municipal judges from notarizing documents not connected with
the exercise of their official duties, subject to the exceptions laid down in Circular No. 1-90.
Most crucially for this case, we should deem the Deed of Sale as not having been notarized at all. The
validity of a notarial certification necessarily derives from the authority of the notarial officer. If the
notary public does not have the capacity to notarize a document, but does so anyway, then the
document should be treated as unnotarized. The rule may strike as rather harsh, and perhaps may
prove to be prejudicial to parties in good faith relying on the proferred authority of the notary public or
the person pretending to be one. Still, to admit otherwise would render merely officious the elaborate
process devised by this Court in order that a lawyer may receive a notarial commission. Without such a
rule, the notarization of a document by a duly appointed notary public will have the same legal effect as
one accomplished by a non-lawyer engaged in pretense.
The notarization of a document carries considerable legal effect. Notarization of a private document
converts such document into a public one, and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its
authenticity.[40] Thus, notarization is not an empty routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a
substantial degree and the protection of that interest requires preventing those who are not qualified or
authorized to act as notaries public from imposing upon the public and the courts and administrative
offices generally.[41]
On the other hand, what then is the effect on the Deed of Sale if it was not notarized? True enough, from a
civil law perspective, the absence of notarization of the Deed of Sale would not necessarily invalidate the
transaction evidenced therein. Article 1358 of the Civil Code requires that the form of a contract that
transmits or extinguishes real rights over immovable property should be in a public document, yet it is
also an accepted rule that the failure to observe the proper form does not render the transaction invalid.
Thus, it has been uniformly held that the form required in Article 1358 is not essential to the validity or
enforceability of the transaction, but required merely for convenience.[42] We have even affirmed that a
sale of real property though not consigned in a public instrument or formal writing, is nevertheless valid
and binding among the parties, for the time-honored rule is that even a verbal contract of sale or real
estate produces legal effects between the parties.[43]
Still, the Court has to reckon with the implications of the lack of valid notarization of the Deed of Sale from
the perspective of the law on evidence. After all, the case rests on the admissibility of the Deed of Sale.
Clearly, the presumption of regularity relied upon by the Court of Appeals no longer holds true since the
Deed of Sale is not a notarized document. Its proper probative value is governed by the Rules of Court.
Section 19, Rule 132 states:
Section 19. Classes of documents.For the purpose of their presentation in evidence, documents are either
public or private.
Public documents are:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official
bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign
country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; and
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be entered
therein.
All other writings are private. (Emphasis supplied.)
The Deed of Sale, invalidly notarized as it was, does not fall under the enumeration of public documents;
hence, it must be considered a private document. The nullity of the alleged or attempted notarization
performed by Judge Cario is sufficient to exclude the document in question from the class of public
documents. Even assuming that the Deed of Sale was validly notarized, it would still be classified as a
private document, since it was not properly acknowledged, but merely subscribed and sworn to by way
of jurat.
Being a private document, the Deed of Sale is now subject to the requirement of proof under Section 20,
Rule 132, which states:
Section 20. Proof of private document.Before any private document offered as authentic is received in
evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved either:
(a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker.
Any other private document need only be identified as that which is claimed to be.
The Deed of Sale was offered in evidence as authentic by the Aquinos, who likewise insist that its
enforceability militates against Tignos claim. Correspondingly, the burden falls upon the Aquinos to
prove its authenticity and due execution. The Court of Appeals clearly erred in not appreciating the Deed
of Sale as a private document and in applying the presumption of regularity that attaches only to duly
notarized documents, as distinguished from private documents.
Did the RTC err then in refusing to admit the Deed of Sale? We hold that it did not. Section 20, Rule 132
provides ample discretion on the trier of fact before it may choose to receive the private document in
evidence. The RTC wisely refused to admit the Deed of Sale, taking great lengths as it did to explain its
doubts as to its veracity. The RTC was not convinced of the proffered proof by the Aquinos, and the
exercise of its sound discretion as the primary trier of fact warrants due respect.
The most telling observation of the RTC relates to the fact that for the very first time respondents alleged
the existence of the Deed of Sale when they filed their answer to petitioners current action to revive
judgment.[44] Prior to the initiation of the present action, Tigno had tried to operationalize and
implement the Compromise Agreement through two judicial means: consignation and execution of
judgment. The Aquinos duly opposed these prior attempts of the petitioner to exercise the right to
repurchase, but they did not raise then the claim that such right to repurchase was already extinguished
by the Deed of Sale. Tigno attempted to exercise the right to repurchase only a few years after the
execution of the Deed of Sale to which respondents themselves were signatories. Thus, it is incredulous
that the Aquinos did not invoke the Deed of Sale when they opposed in court petitioners successive
attempts at consignation and execution of judgment. The Deed of Sale, if in existence and valid, would
have already precluded Tignos causes of action for either consignation or execution of judgment. The
only believable conclusion, as drawn by the RTC, was that the Deed of Sale had yet to be created when
petitioner moved in 1990 for consignation and execution of judgmentan existential anomaly if we
were to agree with the respondents that such document had been signed and notarized back in 1985.
The dubiousness in origin of the Deed of Sale is not alleviated by the other observations of the RTC. It also
pointed to certain incredible aspects in the Aquinos tale of events. It noted that no receipts were ever
presented by the respondents to evidence actual payment of consideration by them to Bustria, despite the
allegation of the respondents that the amount was covered by seven (7) receipts.[45] The Aquinos claimed
that Bustria kept all the receipts, an assertion which the RTC found as unbelievable, citing ordinary
human nature to ask for receipts for significant amounts given and to keep the same.[46] In itself, the
absence of receipts, or any proof of consideration, would not be conclusive since consideration is always
presumed. However, given the totality of the circumstances surrounding this case, the absence of such
proof further militates against the claims of the Aquinos.
We can appreciate in a similar vein the observation of the Court of Appeals that Bustria did not bother to
seek his lawyers assistance as regards the execution of the Deed of Sale, considering that the subject
property had previously been fiercely litigated. Although the Court of Appeals was correct in ruling that
the document would not be rendered null or ineffective due to the lack of assistance of counsel, the
implausibility of the scenario strikes as odd and therefore reinforces the version found by the RTC as
credible.
The Court likewise has its own observations on the record that affirm the doubts raised by the Court of
Appeals. Isidro Bustria, who would die in 1986, was already ninety-three (93) years old when he
allegedly signed the Deed of Sale in 1985. Still, the Aquinos asserted before the RTC that Bustria traveled
unaccompanied from his home in Dasol, Pangasinan, passing through two towns to Alaminos, to execute
the Deed of Sale. Without discrediting the accomplishments of nonagenarians capable of great physical
feats, it should be acknowledged as a matter of general assumption that persons of Bustrias age are
typically sedentary and rarely so foolhardy as to insist on traveling significant distances alone.
Also of note is the fact that there are glaring differences as to the alleged signature of Bustria on the Deed
of Sale and as it otherwise appears on the judicial record. Bustrias signature in the 1981 Compromise
Agreement is noticeably shaky which is not surprising, considering that it was subscribed when Bustria
was eighty-nine (89) years old. However, Bustrias signature on the Deed of Sale, which if genuine was
affixed when he was already ninety-three (93) years old, is remarkably steady in its strokes. There are also
other evident differences between Bustrias signature on the Deed of Sale and on other documents on the
record.
Admittedly, these doubts cast above arise in chief from an appreciation of circumstantial evidence. These
have to be weighed against the findings of the Court of Appeals that the fact that Bustria signed the Deed
of Sale was established by the respective testimonies of witnesses De Francia and Judge Cario. In its own
appreciation of these testimonies, the RTC alluded to notable inconsistencies in their testimonies. As a
final measure of analysis, the Court shall now examine whether the appellate court was in error in
reversing the conclusion of the RTC on these testimonies.
The inconsistencies cited by the RTC were that De Francia testified that Judge Cario himself prepared
and typed the Deed of Sale in his office, where the document was signed,[47] while Judge Cario testified
that he did not type the Deed of Sale since it was already prepared when the parties arrived at his office for
the signing.[48] On this point, the Court of Appeals stated with utter nonchalance that a perusal of the
record revealed no material or substantial inconsistencies between the testimonies of Judge Cario and
De Francia.
Strangely, the appellate court made no comment as to the inconsistency pointed out by the RTC as to who
prepared the Deed of Sale. If the only point of consideration was the due execution of the Deed of Sale, then
the Court of Appeals should have properly come out with its finding. Other variances aside, there are no
contradictions in the testimonies of Judge Cario and De Francia on the question of whether or not
Bustria signed the Deed of Sale.
However, as earlier established, the Deed of Sale is a private document. Thus, not only the due
execution of the document must be proven but also its authenticity. This factor was not duly considered
by the Court of Appeals. The testimonies of Judge Cario and De Francia now become material not only
to establish due execution, but also the authenticity of the Deed of Sale. And on this point, the
inconsistencies pointed out by the RTC become crucial.
The matter of authenticity of the Deed of Sale being disputed, the identity of the progenitor of this all-
important document is a material evidentiary point. It is disconcerting that the very two witnesses of the
respondent offered to prove the Deed of Sale, flatly contradict each other on the basis of their own personal
and sensory knowledge. Worse, the purported author of the Deed of Sale disavowed having drafted the
document, notwithstanding the contrary testimony grounded on personal knowledge by the
documentary witness.
Establishing the identity of the person who wrote the Deed of Sale would not ordinarily be necessary to
establish the validity of the transaction it covers. However, since it is the authenticity of the document
itself that is disputed, then the opposing testimonies on that point by the material witnesses properly
raises questions about the due execution of the document itself. The inconsistencies in the testimonies
of Judge Cario and De Francia are irreconcilable. It is not possible to affirm the testimony of either
without denigrating the competence and credibility of the other as a witness. If Judge Cario was truthful
in testifying that he did not write the Deed of Sale, then doubt can be cast as to the reliability of the notarial
witness De Francia. It takes a leap of imagination, a high level of gumption, and perverse deliberation for
one to erroneously assert, under oath and with particularities, that a person drafted a particular
document in his presence.
However, if we were to instead believe De Francia, then the integrity of the notary public, Judge Cario,
would be obviously compromised. Assuming that Judge Cario had indeed authored the Deed of Sale, it
would indeed be odd that he would not remember having written the document himself yet sufficiently
recall notarizing the same. If his testimony as to authorship of the document is deemed as dubious, then
there is all the reason to make a similar assumption as to his testimony on the notarization of the Deed of
Sale.
These inconsistencies are not of consequence because there is need to indubitably establish the author of
the Deed of Sale. They are important because they cast doubt on the credibility of those witnesses of the
Aquinos, presented as they were to attest to the due execution and authenticity of the Deed of Sale. The
Court of Appeals was clearly in error in peremptorily disregarding this observation of the RTC.
As a result, we are less willing than the Court of Appeals to impute conclusive value to the testimonies of
de Francia and Judge Cario. The totality of the picture leads us to agree with the trial court that the Deed
of Sale is ineluctably dubious in origin and in execution. The Court deems as correct the refusal of the
RTC to admit the Deed of Sale, since its due execution and authenticity have not been proven. The
evidence pointing to the non-existence of such a transaction is so clear and convincing that it is sufficient
even to rebut the typical presumption of regularity arising from the due execution of notarial
documents. However, for the reasons stated earlier, the Deed of Sale is ineluctably an unnotarized
document. And the lower court had more than sufficient basis to conclude that it is a spurious document.
Since the validity of the Deed of Sale has been successfully assailed, Tignos right to repurchase was not
extinguished at the time of the filing of the Petition for revival of judgment, as correctly concluded by the
RTC. The Court of Appeals being in error when it concluded otherwise, the reinstatement of the RTC
Decision is warranted.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated 23 December 1996 and Resolution
dated 9 June 1997 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49879 is REVERSED, and the Decision dated
18 August 1994 of the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, Pangasinan, Branch 55, in Civil Case No. A-1918
is REINSTATED. Costs against respondents.
SO ORDERED.