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A.C. No.

9514

April 10, 2013

Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by complainant Bernard N. Jandoquile against


respondent Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr.

Atty. Revilla, Jr.s violation of the aforesaid disqualification rule is beyond dispute. Atty.
Revilla, Jr. readily admitted that he notarized the complaint-affidavit signed by his relatives
within the fourth civil degree of affinity. Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice clearly disqualifies him from notarizing the complaint-affidavit, from performing
the notarial act, since two of the affiants or principals are his relatives within the fourth civil
degree of affinity. Given the clear provision of the disqualification rule, it behooved upon
Atty. Revilla, Jr. to act with prudence and refuse notarizing the document. We cannot agree
with his proposition that we consider him to have acted more as counsel of the affiants, not
as notary public, when he notarized the complaint-affidavit. The notarial certificate 6 at the
bottom of the complaint-affidavit shows his signature as a notary public, with a notarial
commission valid until December 31, 2012.

The Facts of the case are not disputed.

He cannot therefore claim that he signed it as counsel of the three affiants.

Atty. Revilla, Jr. notarized a complaint-affidavit 2 signed by Heneraline L. Brosas, Herizalyn


Brosas Pedrosa and Elmer L. Alvarado. Heneraline Brosas is a sister of Heizel Wynda Brosas
Revilla, Atty. Revilla, Jr.'s wife. Jandoquile complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. is disqualified to
perform the notarial act3 per Section 3( c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice
which reads as follows:

On the second charge, we agree with Atty. Revilla, Jr. that he cannot be held liable. If the
notary public knows the affiants personally, he need not require them to show their valid
identification cards. This rule is supported by the definition of a "jurat" under Section 6,
Rule II of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. A "jurat" refers to an act in which an
individual on a single occasion: (a) appears in person before the notary public and presents
an instrument or document; (b) is personally known to the notary public or identified by the
notary public through competent evidence of identity; (c) signs the instrument or
document in the presence of the notary; and (d) takes an oath or affirmation before the
notary public as to such instrument or document. In this case, Heneraline Brosas is a sister
of Atty. Revilla, Jr.s wife; Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa is his wifes sister-in-law; and Elmer
Alvarado is the live-in houseboy of the Brosas family. Atty. Revilla, Jr. knows the three
affiants personally. Thus, he was justified in no longer requiring them to show valid
identification cards. But Atty. Revilla, Jr. is not without fault for failing to indicate such fact
in the "jurat" of the complaint-affidavit. No statement was included therein that he knows
the three affiants personally.7 Let it be impressed that Atty. Revilla, Jr. was clearly
disqualified to notarize the complaint-affidavit of his relatives within the fourth civil degree
of affinity. While he has a valid defense as to the second charge, it does not exempt him
from liability for violating the disqualification rule.

BERNARD N. JANDOQUILE, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. QUIRINO P. REVILLA, JR., Respondent.
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

SEC. 3. Disqualifications. A notary public is disqualified from performing a notarial act if


he:
xxxx
(c) is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or relative by affinity or
consanguinity of the principal4 within the fourth civil degree.
Jandoquile also complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not require the three affiants in the
complaint-affidavit to show their valid identification cards.
In his comment5 to the disbarment complaint, Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not deny but admitted
Jandoquiles material allegations. The issue, according to Atty. Revilla, Jr., is whether the
single act of notarizing the complaint-affidavit of relatives within the fourth civil degree of
affinity and, at the same time, not requiring them to present valid identification cards is a
ground for disbarment. Atty. Revilla, Jr. submits that his act is not a ground for disbarment.
He also says that he acts as counsel of the three affiants; thus, he should be considered
more as counsel than as a notary public when he notarized their complaint-affidavit. He did
not require the affiants to present valid identification cards since he knows them
personally. Heneraline Brosas and Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa are sisters-in-law while Elmer
Alvarado is the live-in houseboy of the Brosas family.
Since the facts are not contested, the Court deems it more prudent to resolve the case
instead of referring it to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation.
Indeed, Atty. Revilla, Jr. violated the disqualification rule under Section 3(c), Rule IV of the
2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. We agree with him, however, that his violation is not a
sufficient ground for disbarment.

As we said, Atty. Revilla, Jr.s violation of the disqualification rule under Section 3(c), Rule IV
of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice is not a sufficient ground to disbar him. To our mind,
Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not commit any deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct or gross immoral
conduct, or any other serious ground for disbarment under Section 27, 8 Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court. We recall the case of Maria v. Cortez 9 where we reprimanded Cortez and
disqualified him from being commissioned as notary public for six months. We were
convinced that said punishment, which is less severe than disbarment, would already
suffice as sanction for Cortezs violation. In Cortez, we noted the prohibition in Section 2(b),
Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice that a person shall not perform a notarial act
if the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document (1) is not in the notarys
presence personally at the time of the notarization and (2) is not personally known to the
notary public or otherwise identified by the notary public through a competent evidence of
identity. Cortez had notarized a special power of attorney without having the alleged
signatories appear before him. In imposing the less severe punishment, we were mindful
that removal from the Bar should not really be decreed when any punishment less severe
such as reprimand, temporary suspension or fine would accomplish the end
desired.1wphi1

Considering the attendant circumstances and the single violation committed by Atty.
Revilla, Jr., we are in agreement that a punishment less severe than disbarment would
suffice.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr., is REPRIMANDED and DISQUALIFIED
from being commissioned as a notary public, or from performing any notarial act if he is
presently commissioned as a notary public, for a period of three (3) months. Atty. Revilla, Jr.
is further DIRECTED to INFORM the Court, through an affidavit, once the period of his
disqualification has lapsed.
SO ORDERED.

On November 20, 2001, the respondents filed their Joint Comment[3] dated October 6,
2001. According to them, the allegations in the Complaint that the Bons did not understand
the contents of the Waiver and Quitclaim and that they did not personally appear to
acknowledge the same before Arcangel indicate that the cause of action is based on
alleged intrinsic defects in the document. As such, only the parties to the
document, i.e., the Bons, whose rights were violated can file the Complaint. Being a
stranger to the allegedly defective document, the complainant cannot file
the Complaint. Besides, Maria Bon Borjal and Rafael Bon-Canafe who are co-signatories to
the Waiver and Quitclaim both declared in their Joint Affidavit[4] that Ziga thoroughly
explained the contents of the Waiver and Quitclaim to the Bons before they signed the
document. The subscribing witnesses, Rogelio Bon-Borjal and Nida Barrameda, also
declared in their Joint Affidavit[5] that the contents of the document were explained to the
signatories.
The respondents also aver that it is difficult to believe that the Bons did not
understand the contents of the document they were signing since Amalia and Angelina Bon
are both high school graduates, while Teresa Bon is a college graduate. [6] Further, the fact
that the Bons admit having accepted P5,000.00 from Ziga to sign the Waiver and
Quitclaim precludes them from questioning the document.

ALFREDO BON, complainant, vs.


ARCANGEL, respondents.

ATTYS. VICTOR S. ZIGA and ANTONIO A.

DECISION
TINGA, J.:
On May 9, 2001, Alfredo Bon (complainant) filed a Complaint[1] dated April 3, 2001 for
disbarment against the respondents, Attys. Victor S. Ziga (Ziga) and Antonio A. Arcangel
(Arcangel). Allegedly, the respondents, conspiring with each other and with the use of
fraud, intimidation, stealth, deception and monetary consideration, caused Amalia BonPadre Borjal, Teresa Bon-Padre Patenio, Felecito Bon and Angelina Bon (collectively, the
Bons) to sign a document entitled Waiver and Quitclaim. According to the complainant, the
Bons signed theWaiver and Quitclaim because of Zigas representation that the document
was merely a withdrawal of a previously executed Special Power of Attorney. As it turned
out, the document was a waiver in favor of Ziga of all the properties which the Bons
inherited
from
their
parents
and
predecessors-in-interest. Attached
to
the Complaint are Affidavits[2] executed by the Bons renouncing the Waiver and Quitclaim.
Moreover, the complainant claims that the Bons are residents of Manila and did not
appear before Arcangel who was then in Albay to acknowledge the Waiver and
Quitclaim. Despite this fact, Arcangel notarized the document and even made it appear
that the Bons personally appeared before him to acknowledge the same.

For Arcangels part, he explains that assuming that he notarized the Waiver and
Quitclaim in the absence of the signatories, his act is merely a violation of the Notarial Law
but not a ground for disbarment. He further avers that he was able to talk to Maria Bon and
Rafael Bon-Canafe, both co-signatories to the document, over the phone. Maria Bon and
Rafael Bon-Canafe allegedly declared that they signed the Waiver and Quitclaim. The two,
in fact, personally delivered the document for notarization in his office. Thus, he posits that
there was substantial compliance with the Notarial Law since a notary publics primordial
undertaking is merely to ensure that the signatures on a document are genuine. As long as
they are so, the notary public can allegedly take the risk of notarizing the document
although the signatories are not present.
In conclusion, the respondents aver that the complainant must first prove that
the Waiver and Quitclaim is defective before he can file an administrative case against
them.
The complainant filed a Reply, Opposition and Comment to Joint Comment of
Respondents[7] dated April 5, 2001 asserting that he has a right to complain over the
acquisition of the properties subject of the Waiver and Quitclaim having been mentioned
therein. He also avers that he has the right to inform the Court of the deception committed
by the respondents. He further states that the Bons signed the document after having been
deceived and intimidated by Ziga who, he claims, exercises moral ascendancy over the
Bons. That the Bons are educated does not necessarily mean they could not have been
intimidated and deceived. He maintains that the Bons were misled into believing that what
they were signing was a withdrawal of a previously issued Special Power of Attorney and
were given P5,000.00 each to induce them to sign the Waiver and Quitclaim.
Even assuming that the signatures appearing on the Waiver and Quitclaim are
genuine, he asserts that it was still highly irregular for Arcangel to notarize the document
by telephone when it could have been notarized in Manila where the signatories
reside. Lastly, he avers that it is not necessary for a court to declare that the Waiver and
Quitclaim is defective before the instant administrative case can proceed.

The respondents filed their Comment on Complainants Reply[8] dated April 12,
2002 alleging that in his reply, the complainant changed his cause of action from fraud and
deception to intimidation and moral ascendancy. According to them, the complainant is
incompetent to charge Ziga with intimidation as he was not a party to the document and
was not even present when it was executed. The respondents insist that the only instance
when anyone can file a disbarment complaint against a lawyer is when the ground
therefore is a public offense like immorality, misbehavior, betrayal of trust and the
like. When, as in the instant case, the parties to the alleged defective document have not
formally impugned the document themselves, no one else can.
In the Courts Resolution[9] dated July 22, 2002, we referred the case to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. Citing the Report
and Recommendation[10] dated November 7, 2002 of its Investigating Commissioner, the
IBP
passed Resolution
No.
XV-2002-604[11] on December
14,
2002 dismissing
the Complaint for lack of merit. According to the Report and Recommendation, the Bons
failure to file the appropriate action to set aside the Waiver and Quitclaim casts doubt on
their claim that Ziga misled or deceived them into signing the document. As regards
Arcangel, the IBP concluded that while he may have been remiss in his duties as a notary
public, the same does not constitute a ground for disbarment.
The complainant filed a Motion for Reconsideration [12] dated February 24, 2003 which
the IBP denied in Resolution No. XV-2003-149[13] issued on March 22, 2003 since it no
longer has jurisdiction to consider and resolve a matter already endorsed to the Supreme
Court. The complainant then filed with this Court a Motion for Re-Examination of the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines[14] dated September 10, 2003 mainly rehashing his claim that the respondents
induced the Bons to sign the Waiver and Quitclaim by means of deceit and abuse of moral
ascendancy.
We are hard put to ascribe to Ziga the fraud, intimidation, stealth and deception with
which the complainant labels his actuations. The fact that Amalia and Angelina Bon are
both high school graduates, while Teresa Bon is a college graduate [15] makes it difficult to
believe that they were deceived into thinking that the contents of the Waiver and
Quitclaim were other than what they themselves could have easily ascertained from a
reading of the document. As held by the Court in Bernardo v. Court of Appeals:[16]
The rule that one who signs a contract is presumed to know its contents has been applied
even to contracts of illiterate persons on the ground that if such persons are unable to
read, they are negligent if they fail to have the contract read to them. If a person cannot
read the instrument, it is as much his duty to procure some reliable persons to read and
explain it to him, before he signs it, as it would be to read it before he signed it if he were
able to do so and his failure to obtain a reading and explanation of it is such gross
negligence as will estop him from avoiding it on the ground that he was ignorant of its
contents[17]

1. We are heirs and direct descendants of the late Santiago Bon of Tabaco, Albay;
2. We had been named as formal parties in DARAB Case No. V-RC-010, Albay Branch 11 99
entitled Virginia Desuyo, et al. vs. Alfredo Bon, et al.;
3. We admit that, we the descendants and relatives of the late Santiago Bon do not have
any right or interest anymore over Lots No. 1911, 1917-A, 1917-B, 1970, 1988, all of
Tabaco, Cadastre, because the above lots had been already sold by our predecessor in
favor of the Ziga Family, predecessor of Ex-Senator Victor Ziga since 1930, and that the
above family had been continuously in possession thereof, thru their tenants since 1930, or
for more than 70 years already, to our exclusion;
4. It is only our brother, Alfredo Bon, who adamantly refuses to admit the above fact and
still claim rights over said properties despite the explanation of our ancestors that the
above mentioned lots had been long sold by our predecessor to the Zigas [18]
Significantly, as pointed out by the Investigating Commissioner, the Bons have not
filed the appropriate action to set aside the Waiver and Quitclaim. The complainant,
however, explains that they will pursue that the Waiver and Quit Claim be annulled by the
court[19] in Civil Case No. T-2163 pending with the Regional Trial Court Branch
18, Tabaco City. That they have yet to do so almost four (4) years after the execution of
the Waiver and Quitclaim diminishes, if not totally discredits, their position that they were
defrauded, intimidated and deceived into signing the document.
At this time, all that the complainant offers to boost his claim that Ziga employed
deceit in procuring the Bons signatures are the latters bare allegations to the effect that
Ziga told them there was nothing wrong with the document except that they were
withdrawing the Special Power of Attorney. These allegations are belied by the Joint
Affidavit[20] of Maria Bon-Borjal and Rafael Bon-Canafe, the Bons co-signatories, and
the Joint Affidavit[21] of Rogelio Bon Borjal and Nida Barrameda, the subscribing witnesses to
the Waiver and Quitclaim, both of which assert that the contents of the document were
sufficiently explained to the Bons.
Given these circumstances, the presumptions that a person takes ordinary care of his
concerns;[22] that private transactions have been fair and regular; [23] and that acquiescence
resulted from a belief that the thing acquiesced in was conformable to the law or
fact[24] have not been sufficiently overcome.
However, we do find the act of Arcangel in notarizing the Waiver and
Quitclaim without requiring all the persons who executed the document to personally
appear before him and acknowledge that the same is their free act and deed an
unpardonable breach of his duty as a notary public.
Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103 provides:

Besides, the Waiver and Quitclaim is plainly worded. It does not contain complicated
terms that might be misconstrued by anyone who has half the education attained by
Amalia, Angelina and Teresa Bon. Moreover, the Bons admitted therein that in 1930, their
predecessors sold to the Ziga family the properties to which they now lay claim. They also
declared in the document that it was only their brother, Alfredo, the complainant in this
case, who still claimed rights over the properties. The relevant provisions of the Waiver and
Quitclaim state:

(a) The acknowledgement shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly
authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgements of instruments or documents
in the place where the act is done.The notary public or the officer taking the
acknowledgement shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or document
is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, and acknowledged that

the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under the official seal, if he
is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state. [25]
The Acknowledgement contained in the Waiver and Quitclaim executed in Zigas
house in Manila specifically states: BEFORE ME, a Notary Public, for and in the above
mentioned locality personally appeared [26] However, the Bons did not personally appear
before Arcangel to acknowledge the document. Arcangel himself admits as much but posits
that he was able to talk to the Bons co-signatories over the phone, i.e., Maria Bon and
Rafael Bon-Canafe, and that the two promised to bring the document to Albay for
notarization. Hence, Arcangel claims that there was substantial compliance with the
Notarial Law. He adds that as long as the signatures on the instrument are genuine, the
notary public can take the risk of notarizing the document although the signatories are not
present.
Arcangel seems to be laboring under a misguided understanding of the basic
principles of the Notarial Law. It is well to remind him that notarization is not an empty,
meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only
those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a
private document into a public document thus making that document admissible in
evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to
full faith and credit upon its face. Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large
must be able to rely upon the acknowledgement executed by a notary public and
appended to a private instrument. For this reason, notaries public must observe with
utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the
confidence of the public in the integrity of this form of conveyance would be
undermined. [27]

As regards Atty. Antonio A. Arcangel, his commission as Notary Public, if still existing,
is REVOKED. He is DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as such for a period of two (2)
years. He is also SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months effective
immediately, with a WARNING that a repetition of a similar violation will be dealt with even
more severely. He is further DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to
the Court within five (5) days from such receipt.
The Clerk of Court of this Court is DIRECTED
this Decision for the proper guidance of all concerned.

SO ORDERED.

From his admission, we find that Arcangel failed to exercise due diligence in upholding
his duty as a notary public. He violated Rules 1.01[30] and 10.01[31] of the Code of
Professional Responsibility as well. However, his transgression does not warrant
disbarment, which is the severest form of disciplinary sanction.

WHEREFORE, the Complaint filed against Atty. Victor S. Ziga is DISMISSED for lack of
merit.

immediately

circularize

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and recorded in the personal files of the respondents.

Thus, a member of the bar who performs an act as a notary public should not notarize
a document unless the persons who signed the same are the very same persons who
executed and personally appeared before him to attest to the contents and truth of what
are stated therein. The acts of the affiants cannot be delegated to anyone for what are
stated therein are facts of which they have personal knowledge. They should swear to the
document personally and not through any representative. Otherwise, their representatives
name should appear in the said documents as the one who executed the same. That is the
only time the representative can affix his signature and personally appear before the
notary public for notarization of the said document. [28] Simply put, the party or parties who
executed the instrument must be the ones to personally appear before the Notary Public to
acknowledge the document.[29]

In Ocampo v. Yrreverre,[32] the Court, taking note of the remorseful attitude of the
respondent who was found guilty of breach of the notarial law for notarizing a document in
the absence of the signatories, revoked his notarial commission for a period of two (2)
years and suspended him from the practice of law for six (6) months.

to

A.C. No. 3232 September 27, 1994


ROSITA C. NADAYAG, complainant,
vs.
ATTY JOSE A. GRAGEDA, respondent.

MELO, J.:

and I asked then further if they have any more to add or delete; they
answered that there was no more and they will sign the same;

In a letter-complaint dated April 15, 1988, Rosita C. Nadayag charged respondent Atty. A.
Grageda, a practicing attorney and notary public in Iligan City, with conduct unbecoming of
a lawyer in connection with a "Pacto de Retro" transaction wherein complainant was the
vendee. Complainant's affidavit, which accompanied her letter-complaint, alleged that
respondent:
. . . prepared and notarized a PACTO DE RETRO sale with me as
the Vendee-a-Retro last January 21, 1987 in this City using Original
Certificate of Land Title stolen from the Office of the Register of Deeds
herein in Iligan as a result of which I was swindled in One hundred eight
thousand pesos (P108,000.00) because the said land sold to me by Pacto
de Retro was already sold ahead of time to another party, using the
owner's duplicate copy of the title. That during our pacto de retro sale, as
I was suspicious already of the appearance of the Original Certificate of
Title, having many annotations and old patches thereof, when I brought
the matter to the attention of Atty. Jose A. Grageda, notarizing the same,
he simply answered me that the title was all right and that he told me
further not to worry as he is an attorney and besides he knew very well
the Vendor-a- Retro whose business transactions especially notarial
matter has been and in fact always handled by him (Attorney Jose A.
Grageda).
That said stolen Original Certificate of Land Title was confiscated by
Iligan City Register of Deeds, Attorney Reynaldo Baguio on the occasion
when I applied for registration of my Pacto de Retro. Findings showed
that many other cased of stolen original certificates of land titles have
taken place in the said office but the said Attorney as the Register of
Deeds did not prosecute the thieves thereof.
I filed Estafa case against the Vendor-a-Retro together with her
accomplices to include said Attorney Jose A. Grageda, coursing it through
the local Barangay Captain last May 1987 yet, then forwarded to the City
Fiscal through the Police Station Commander in June 1987 but that and
until the time of this Report was not tried in Court yet but that the
Information did not include said Atty. Jose A. Grageda, hence this report.
(p. 2, Vol. I, Record.)
Respondent filed his counter-affidavit dated March 29, 1989, pertinently alleging:
6. That they showed me a copy of the title which I examined and found
out the title was clear and there was no annotation or entry so I told
them that as far as the title was concern there was no encumbrances or
annotation and can be the subject of the Pacto de Retro;
7. That they insisted that I notarized the document so I proceeded to
translate the document in Cebu, Visayan dialect to make sure that the
parties understood the deed and they replied that they understood this

8. That I told them to sign the document above their typewritten name
which they did and witnessed by the other person with them who were
present, so after their signature in good faith based upon their
documents I notarized the same.
(p. 10, Vol. II, Record.)
Pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court and the resolution of the Court En Banc of April
12, 1988, the case was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippine (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline scheduled hearings for reception of evidence but
complainant manifested that she cannot proceed to Manila and attend to her case due to
financial constraints. Upon the other hand, respondent could no longer be located, having
moved without leaving any forwarding address.
Nonetheless, said Commission, on the basis of the complaint and the supporting affidavit,
as well as the counter-affidavit of respondent, found that "there is reason for disciplining
the respondent" premised upon the following observations:
Respondent first admits that he was consulted by the vendor-a-retro and
the complainant (vendee-a-retro) on the matter of the title when he was
asked to notarize the Deed of Sale a Retro. He admits that he rendered
an opinion based on the title that was presented to him. It turns out that
the title presented to him is the Original Certificate of Title which only the
Register of Deeds has custody of and he should have sensed foul-play or
irregularity. As a lawyer and officer of the court, he should have been
alerted and should have reported the irregularity of an Original
Certificate of Title, which should be in the exclusive safekeeping of the
Register of Deeds, in the possession of unauthorized persons. Even if it
were the photostat copy of said Original Certificate of Title that was
presented to him, the same did not bear any certification by the Register
of Deeds which could have alerted him of the irregularity. The testimony
that the Original was shown to him has not been controverted. The
Vendee was in fact in possession of the Original because it was testified
that when the Register of Deeds found that respondent was in
possession, the original certificate was confiscated by the Register of
Deeds.
The Commission takes special note of a notary public acting more than a
notary public and goes beyond mere certification of the presence of the
signatories, their having signed, and having contracted. By transcending
these bounds, such notary public has entered the realm of giving "legal
advice" thus "acting also as counsel aside from notary public" to the
parties to the contract.
Treated as counsels for the vendee, he had the legal duty to advice him
properly of the irregularities and the dangers of holding the Original

Certificate which should have been in the custody of the Register of


Deeds. Respondent had acted recklessly at the least, in his advise of the
vendee. He rendered an opinion that was irresponsible that his client
relied upon which recklessness is censurable.
(pp. 3-4, Commissioner's Report; ff. p. 22, Vol. Record.)
A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The trust
and confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in the attorney a high standard and
appreciation of his duty to his clients, his profession, the courts and the public. The bar
should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing.
Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing
his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts, and to his clients. To this end, nothing should
be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree
the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the profession.
(Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., 214 SCRA 1 [1992]).
Generally, a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in
honesty, probity, and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
(Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., supra).
In the case at bar, respondent should have been conscientious in seeing to it that justice
permeated every aspect of a transaction for which his services had been engaged, in
conformity with the avowed duties of a worthy member of the Bar. He should have fully
explained the legal intricacies and consequences of the subject transaction as would aid
the parties in making an informed decision. Such responsibility was plainly incumbent upon
him, and failing therein, he must now face the commensurate consequences of his
professional indiscretion. After all, notarization is not an empty routine. Notarization of a
private document converts such document into a public one and renders it admissible in
court without further proof of its authenticity.
ACCORDINGLY, and as recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, the Court Resolved to
SUSPEND respondent Atty. Jose A. Grageda from the practice of law for a period of three (3)
months commencing from receipt of this Resolution, with the warning that a repetition of
the same or any other misconduct will be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this
Resolution be spread on the records of said respondent, with copies thereof furnished to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and duly circularized to all courts.
SO ORDERED.

the absence of most of the signatories/affiants; and that he should be sanctioned in


accordance with Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Code and Code of Professional
Responsibility. Complainant further alleged that Atty. Cabucana uttered grave threats
against him on July 20, 2004 after the hearing of the said case in MTCC.
In his Answer, Atty. Cabucana averred that the complaint was intended to harass him
because he was the private prosecutor in a criminal case filed against complainant before
the MTCC; that complainant had no cause of action as his right was not violated because
he was just a "would be" buyer and not a party to the compromise agreement; and that
complainant would not suffer any damage by the pendency of the case or by any defects
obtaining in the notarization of the compromise agreement.
In its Report and Recommendation,1 dated January 22, 2007, the Investigating
Commissioner found that Atty. Cabucana violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility when he notarized the compromise agreement without the
presence of all the parties, and recommended that he be suspended as Notary Public for a
period of two (2) years and from the practice of law for six (6) months.
In its Resolution,2 dated May 31, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved
the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner with modification that
Atty. Cabucana be suspended for only six (6) months for violation of his obligation as
Notary Public.

A.C. No. 10185

March 12, 2014

LICERIO DIZON, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. MARCELINO CABUCANA, JR., Respondent.
RESOLUTION
MENDOZA, J.:
On May 14, 2004, complainant Licerio Dizon (complainant) filed a petition against Atty.
Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. (Atty. Cabucana), before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP),
praying for the disbarment of the latter for falsification of public document.
In his petition, complainant alleged that he was one of the would-be-buyers of a parcel of
land owned by the heirs of the late Florentino Callangan, namely, Susana, Jun and
Angeleta, all surnamed Callangan who were parties in Civil Case No. 1-689 filed before the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch I, Santiago City (MTCC); that on November 6, 2003, a
compromise agreement was executed by the parties in the said case and notarized before
Atty. Cabucana on the same date it was signed at the MTCC; that at the hearing conducted
on December 11, 2003 regarding the due execution and the veracity of the compromise
agreement, the signatories therein testified that they signed the instrument in the court
room of MTCC but not in the presence of Atty. Cabucana as Notary Public; that because of
the irregularity in the due execution of the Compromise Agreement, there was undue delay
in the resolution/decision of Civil Case No. 1-689 which caused damage and injury to
complainant; that Atty. Cabucana violated the Notarial Law in notarizing the document in

On motion for reconsideration, the IBP Board of Governors, in a Resolution, 3 modified its
earlier resolution and suspended Atty. Cabucana from the practice of law for one (1) month
and disqualified him from re-appointment as notary public for one (1) year.
The Court agrees with the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the
penalty.
Section 1, Public Act No. 2103, otherwise known as the Notarial Law states:
The acknowledgment shall be before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of
the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the
act is done. The notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that
the person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him and that he is the
same person who executed it, acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The
certificate shall be made under the official seal, if he is required by law to keep a seal, and
if not, his certificate shall so state.
The requirement of affiant's personal appearance was further emphasized in Section 2 (b)
of Rule IV of the Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 which provides that:
A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the
instrument or document
(1) is not in the notary's presence personally at the time of the notarization; and
(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the
notary public through competent evidence of identity as defined by these Rules.

As a notary public, Atty. Cabucana should not notarize a document unless the person who
signs it is the same person executing it and personally appearing before him to attest to
the truth of its contents. This is to enable him to verify the genuineness of the signature of
the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the party's free and
voluntary act and deed.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. GUILTY of violating
Rule 1.01, Canon l of the Code of Professional Responsibility.1wphi1 Accordingly, the Court
SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for three (3) months, REVOKES his incumbent
notarial commission, if any, and PROHIBITS him from being commissioned as a notary
public for two (2) years, effective immediately, with a stern WARNING that a repetition of
the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant to be included in the records of
the respondent; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters; and
the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all cou1is throughout the country.

This is a disbarment case filed by the Faculty members and Staff of the Saint Louis
University-Laboratory High School (SLU-LHS) against Atty. Rolando C. Dela Cruz, principal of
SLU-LHS, predicated on the following grounds:

1) Gross Misconduct:
From the records of the case, it appears that there is a pending criminal case for child
abuse allegedly committed by him against a high school student filed before the
Prosecutors Office of Baguio City; a pending administrative case filed by the Teachers,
Staff, Students and Parents before an Investigating Board created by SLU for his alleged
unprofessional and unethical acts of misappropriating money supposedly for the teachers;
and the pending labor case filed by SLU-LHS Faculty before the NLRC, Cordillera
Administrative Region, on alleged illegal deduction of salary by respondent.

SO ORDERED.
2) Grossly Immoral Conduct:
In contracting a second marriage despite the existence of his first marriage; and

3) Malpractice:
In notarizing documents despite the expiration of his commission.
According to complainant, respondent was legally married to Teresita Rivera on 31 May
1982 at Tuba, Benguet, before the then Honorable Judge Tomas W. Macaranas. He
thereafter contracted a subsequent marriage with one Mary Jane Pascua, before the
Honorable Judge Guillermo Purganan. On 4 October 1994, said second marriage was
subsequently annulled for being bigamous.

SLU VS DELA CRUZ

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

On the charge of malpractice, complainant alleged that respondent deliberately subscribed


and notarized certain legal documents on different dates from 1988 to 1997, despite
expiration of respondents notarial commission on 31 December 1987. A Certification[1]
dated 25 May 1999 was issued by the Clerk of Court of Regional Trial Court (RTC), Baguio
City, to the effect that respondent had not applied for commission as Notary Public for and
in the City of Baguio for the period 1988 to 1997. Respondent performed acts of
notarization, as evidenced by the following documents:

1.
Affidavit of Ownership[2] dated 8 March 1991, executed by Fernando T.
Acosta, subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
10.
Absolute Deed of Sale[11] dated 23 March 1995, executed by Eleanor
D.Meridor in favor of Leonardo N. Benter, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
2.
Affidavit[3] dated 26 September 1992, executed by Maria Cortez Atos,
subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
11.
Deed of Absolute Sale[12] dated 20 December 1996, executed by Mandapat in
favor of Mario R. Mabalot, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
3.
Affidavit[4] dated 14 January 1992, executed by Fanolex James A. Menos,
subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela Cruz;
12.
Joint Affidavit By Two Disinterested Parties[13] dated 17 April 1996, executed
by Villiam C. Ambong and Romeo L. Quiming, subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela
Cruz;
4.
Affidavit[5] dated 23 December 1993, executed by Ponciano V. Abalos,
subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela Cruz;

13.
Conditional Deed of Sale[14] dated 27 February 1997, executed by Aurelia
Demot Cados in favor of Jose Ma. A. Pangilinan, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
5.
Absolute Date of Sale[6] dated 23 June 1993, executed by Danilo Gonzales in
favor of Senecio C. Marzan, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;

6.
Joint Affidavit By Two Disinherited Parties[7] dated 5 March 1994, executed by
Evelyn C. Canullas and Pastora C. Tacadena, subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela
Cruz;

7.
Sworn Statement[8] dated 31 May 1994, executed by Felimon B. Rimorin,
subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela Cruz;

14.
Memorandum of Agreement[15] dated 19 July 1996, executed by JARCO
represented by Mr. Johnny Teope and AZTEC Construction represented by Mr. George Cham,
notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz.

Quite remarkably, respondent, in his comment, denied the charges of child abuse, illegal
deduction of salary and others which are still pending before the St. Louis University (SLU),
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the Prosecutors Office. He did not discuss
anything about the allegations of immorality in contracting a second marriage and
malpractice in notarizing documents despite the expiration of his commission.

8.
Deed of Sale[9] dated 17 August 1994, executed by Woodrow Apurado in
favor of Jacinto Batara, notarized by Rolando Dela Cruz;
After the filing of comment, We referred[16] the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), for investigation, report and recommendation.
9.
Joint Affidavit by Two Disinterested Parties[10] dated 1 June 1994, executed by
Ponciano V. Abalos and Arsenio C. Sibayan, subscribed and sworn to before Rolando Dela
Cruz;

The IBP conducted the mandatory preliminary conference.

The complainants, thereafter, submitted their position paper which is just a reiteration of
their allegations in their complaint.

Respondent, on his part, expressly admitted his second marriage despite the existence of
his first marriage, and the subsequent nullification of the former. He also admitted having
notarized certain documents during the period when his notarial commission had already
expired. However, he offered some extenuating defenses such as good faith, lack of malice
and noble intentions in doing the complained acts.

After the submission of their position papers, the case was deemed submitted for
resolution.
On 30 March 2005, Commissioner Acerey C. Pacheco submitted his report and
recommended that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that respondent be


administratively penalized for the following acts:

a. For contracting a second marriage without taking the appropriate legal steps to have the
first marriage annulled first, he be suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year, and

b. For notarizing certain legal documents despite full knowledge of the expiration of his
notarial commission, he be suspended from the practice of law for another one (1) year or
for a total of two (2) years.[17]

On 17 December 2005, the IBP Board of Governors, approved and adopted the
recommendation of Commissioner Pacheco, thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
made part of this Resolution as Annex A and, finding the recommendation fully supported
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that
Respondent contracted a second marriage without taking appropriate legal steps to have
the first marriage annulled, Atty. Rolando C. dela Cruz is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for one (1) year and for notarizing legal documents despite full knowledge
of the expiration of his notarial commission Atty. Rolando C. dela Cruz is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for another one (1) year, for a total of two (2) years Suspension from the
practice of law.[18]

This Court finds the recommendation of the IBP to fault respondent well taken, except as to
the penalty contained therein.

At the threshold, it is worth stressing that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege
bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess the qualifications required by
law for the conferment of such privilege. Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened
with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege and right to practice law only during good
behavior, and he can be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained and declared by
judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been afforded him. Without
invading any constitutional privilege or right, an attorneys right to practice law may be
resolved by a proceeding to suspend, based on conduct rendering him unfit to hold a
license or to exercise the duties and responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood
that the purpose of suspending or disbarring him as an attorney is to remove from the
profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with the duties
and responsibilities belonging to an office of attorney and, thus, to protect the public and
those charged with the administration of justice, rather than to punish an attorney.
Elaborating on this, we said on Maligsa v. Atty. Cabanting,[19] that the Bar should maintain
a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. A lawyer brings
honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the
courts and to his clients. A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act
which might lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the
fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession. Towards this end, an attorney may be
disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of his duties as an attorney and
counselor, which include statutory grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court, all of these being broad enough to cover practically any misconduct of a
lawyer in his professional or private capacity.

Equally worthy of remark is that the law profession does not prescribe a dichotomy of
standards among its members. There is no distinction as to whether the transgression is
committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. This is because a
lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere
citizen at another.[20] Thus, not only his professional activities but even his private life,
insofar as the latter may reflect unfavorably upon the good name and prestige of the
profession and the courts, may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the part of the
proper authorities.[21]

Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court cites grossly immoral conduct as a ground for
disbarment.

The Court has laid down with a common definition of what constitutes immoral conduct,
vis--vis, grossly immoral conduct. Immoral conduct is that conduct which is willful, flagrant,
or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and
respectable members of the community and what is grossly immoral, that is, it must be so
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to
a high degree.[24]

One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good
moral character. Possession of such moral character as requirement to the enjoyment of
the privilege of law practice must be continuous. Otherwise, membership in the bar may be
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral conduct.[22]

In the case at bench, there is no dispute that respondent and Teresita Rivera contracted
marriage on 31 May 1982 before Judge Tomas W. Macaranas. In less than a year, they
parted ways owing to their irreconcilable differences without seeking judicial recourse. The
union bore no offspring. After their separation in-fact, respondent never knew the
whereabouts of Teresita Rivera since he had lost all forms of communication with her.
Seven years thereafter, respondent became attracted to one Mary Jane Pascua, who was
also a faculty member of SLU-LHS. There is also no dispute over the fact that in 1989,
respondent married Mary Jane Pascua in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Baguio City,
Branch 68. Respondent even admitted this fact. When the second marriage was entered
into, respondents prior marriage with Teresita Rivera was still subsisting, no action having
been initiated before the court to obtain a judicial declaration of nullity or annulment of
respondents prior marriage to Teresita Rivera or a judicial declaration of presumptive death
of Teresita Rivera.
Respondent was already a member of the Bar when he contracted the bigamous second
marriage in 1989, having been admitted to the Bar in 1985. As such, he cannot feign
ignorance of the mandate of the law that before a second marriage may be validly
contracted, the first and subsisting marriage must first be annulled by the appropriate
court. The second marriage was annulled only on 4 October 1994 before the RTC of
Benguet, Branch 9, or about five years after respondent contracted his second marriage.
The annulment of respondents second marriage has no bearing to the instant disbarment
proceeding. Firstly, as earlier emphasized, the annulment came after the respondents
second bigamous marriage. Secondly, as we held in In re: Almacen, a disbarment case is
sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by
the court into the conduct of its officers. Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal
action is not determinative of an administrative case against him, or if an affidavit of
withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course, then neither will the judgment
of annulment of respondents second marriage also exonerate him from a wrongdoing
actually committed. So long as the quantum of proof - clear preponderance of evidence - in
disciplinary proceedings against members of the Bar is met, then liability attaches.[23]

Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes immoral conduct. But is it so gross as to warrant


his disbarment? Indeed, he exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required
of him as a member of the Bar. In particular, he made a mockery of marriage which is a
sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second marriage
while the first marriage was still in place, is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and
morality.[25]
However, measured against the definition, we are not prepared to consider respondents act
as grossly immoral. This finds support in the following recommendation and observation of
the IBP Investigator and IBP Board of Governors, thus:

The uncontested assertions of the respondent belies any intention to flaunt the law and the
high moral standard of the legal profession, to wit:

a. After his first failed marriage and prior to his second marriage or for a period of almost
seven (7) years, he has not been romantically involved with any woman;

b. His second marriage was a show of his noble intentions and total love for his wife, whom
he described to be very intelligent person;

c. He never absconded from his obligations to support his wife and child;

d. He never disclaimed paternity over the child and husbandry (sic) with relation to his
wife;

year suspension recommended by the IBP is too light and not commensurate to the act
committed by respondent.

e. After the annulment of his second marriage, they have parted ways when the mother
and child went to Australia;

As to the charge of misconduct for having notarized several documents during the years
1988-1997 after his commission as notary public had expired, respondent humbly admitted
having notarized certain documents despite his knowledge that he no longer had authority
to do so. He, however, alleged that he received no payment in notarizing said documents.

f. Since then up to now, respondent remained celibate.[26]

In the case of Terre v. Terre,[27] respondent was disbarred because his moral character was
deeply flawed as shown by the following circumstances, viz: he convinced the complainant
that her prior marriage to Bercenilla was null and void ab initio and that she was legally
single and free to marry him. When complainant and respondent had contracted their
marriage, respondent went through law school while being supported by complainant, with
some assistance from respondents parents. After respondent had finished his law course
and gotten complainant pregnant, respondent abandoned the complainant without support
and without the wherewithal for delivering his own child safely to a hospital.

In the case of Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,[28] respondent was also disbarred for his grossly
immoral acts such as: first, he abandoned his lawful wife and three children; second, he
lured an innocent young woman into marrying him; third, he mispresented himself as a
bachelor so he could contract marriage in a foreign land; and fourth, he availed himself of
complainants resources by securing a plane ticket from complainants office in order to
marry the latters daughter. He did this without complainants knowledge. Afterwards, he
even had the temerity to assure complainant that everything is legal.

Such acts are wanting in the case at bar. In fact, no less than the respondent himself
acknowledged and declared his abject apology for his misstep. He was humble enough to
offer no defense save for his love and declaration of his commitment to his wife and child.

Based on the reasons stated above, we find the imposition of disbarment upon him to be
unduly harsh. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and may be
imposed only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and
character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court. Disbarment should never be decreed
where any lesser penalty could accomplish the end desired.[29] In line with this philosophy,
we find that a penalty of two years suspension is more appropriate. The penalty of one (1)

It has been emphatically stressed that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary
act. On the contrary, it is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those
who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization of a private
document converts the document into a public one making it admissible in court without
further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and
credit upon its face and, for this reason, notaries public must observe with the utmost care
the basic requirements in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the
public in the integrity of this form of conveyance would be undermined.[30]
The requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public must not be treated as
a mere casual formality. The Court has characterized a lawyers act of notarizing documents
without the requisite commission to do so as reprehensible, constituting as it does not only
malpractice but also x x x the crime of falsification of public documents.[31]

The Court had occasion to state that where the notarization of a document is done by a
member of the Philippine Bar at a time when he has no authorization or commission to do
so, the offender may be subjected to disciplinary action or one, performing a notarial act
without such commission is a violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws, more
specifically, the Notarial Law. Then, too, by making it appear that he is duly commissioned
when he is not, he is, for all legal intents and purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood,
which the lawyers oath similarly proscribes. These violations fall squarely within the
prohibition of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
provides: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
By acting as a notary public without the proper commission to do so, the lawyer likewise
violates Canon 7 of the same Code, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all times the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession.
In the case of Buensuceso v. Barera,[32] a lawyer was suspended for one year when he
notarized five documents after his commission as Notary Public had expired, to wit: a
complaint for ejectment, affidavit, supplemental affidavit, a deed of sale, and a contract to
sell. Guided by the pronouncement in said case, we find that a suspension of two (2) years
is justified under the circumstances. Herein respondent notarized a total of fourteen (14)
documents[33] without the requisite notarial commission.
Other charges constituting respondents misconduct such as the pending criminal case for
child abuse allegedly committed by him against a high school student filed before the
Prosecutors Office of Baguio City; the pending administrative case filed by the Teachers,
Staff, Students and Parents before an Investigating Board created by SLU; and the pending

labor case filed by SLU-LHS Faculty before the NLRC, Cordillera Administrative Region, on
alleged illegal deduction of salary by respondent, need not be discussed, as they are still
pending before the proper forums. At such stages, the presumption of innocence still
prevails in favor of the respondent.

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Rolando Dela Cruz guilty of immoral conduct, in
disregard of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of two (2) years, and another two (2) years for notarizing
documents despite the expiration of his commission or a total of four (4) years of
suspension.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished all the courts of the land through the Court
Administrator, as well as the IBP, the Office of the Bar Confidant, and recorded in the
personal records of the respondent.

SO ORDERED.