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A.C. No.

9514 April 10, 2013

BERNARD N. JANDOQUILE, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. QUIRINO P. REVILLA, JR., Respondent.

RESOLUTION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

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


respondent Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr.

The Facts of the case are not disputed.

Atty. Revilla, Jr. notarized a complaint-affidavit2 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:

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.
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.

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

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.

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. Cortez9 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.

A.C. No. 5798 January 20, 2005

ALEX B. CUETO, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOSE B. JIMENEZ, JR., respondent.

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

Before us is a complaint1 for disciplinary action against Atty. Jose Jimenez, Jr. filed by Engr.
Alex B. Cueto with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Commission on Bar Discipline.

Engr. Alex Cueto alleged that sometime in October 1999 he engaged the services of
respondent as notary public, the latter being the father of the owner of the building subject
of the Construction Agreement2 to be notarized. He was then accompanied by a certain Val
Rivera, the building administrator of respondents son Jose Jimenez III.

After notarizing the agreement, respondent demanded P50,000 as notarial fee. Despite his
surprise as to the cost of the notarial service, complainant informed respondent that he only
had P30,000 in cash. Respondent persuaded complainant to pay the P30,000 and to issue a
check for the remaining P20,000. Being unfamiliar with the cost of notarial services,
complainant paid all his cash3 and issued a Far East Bank check dated December 28, 1999
for the balance.1vvphi1.nt

Before the maturity date of the check, complainant requested respondent not to deposit the
same for lack of sufficient funds. He also informed respondent that the latters son Jose
Jimenez III had not yet paid his services as general contractor. Still, respondent deposited
the check which was consequently dishonored for insufficient funds. Meanwhile,
the P2,500,000 check issued by respondents son to complainant as initial payment
pursuant to the Construction Agreement was itself dishonored for having been drawn
against a closed account.
Subsequently, Atty. Jimenez lodged a complaint for violation of BP 22 against Cueto before
the City Prosecutors Office in Angeles City. The criminal case was tried in the Metropolitan
Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch I.

In the meantime, Cueto filed his own administrative complaint against Jimenez on November
16, 2001. He alleged that Jimenez violated the Code of Professional Responsibility and
Canons of Professional Ethics when he filed the criminal case against Cueto so he could
collect the balance of his notarial fee.

Pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 6 of the Rules of Court, respondent Jimenez was required to
answer the complaint filed against him.4 Despite notice, however, respondent failed to file
his answer and to appear before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. After hearing the
case ex-parte, the case was deemed submitted for resolution. 5

In its report6 dated April 21, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent
guilty of violating Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
recommended that Atty. Jose B. Jimenez, Jr. be reprimanded.

On June 29, 2002, the Board of Governors passed a resolution 7 adopting and approving the
report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner:8

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/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and in view of
respondents violation of Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
respondent is hereby reprimanded.

Complainants claim that respondents P50,000 notarial fee was exorbitant is debatable. As
confirmed by the IBP, it is a recognized legal practice in real estate transactions and
construction projects to base the amount of notarial fees on the contract price. Based on the
amount demanded by respondent, the fee represented only 1% of the contract price
of P5,000,000. It cannot be said therefore that respondent notary demanded more than a
reasonable recompense for his service.

We are also convinced that the two contracting parties implicitly agreed on the cost of
Jimenezs notarial service. It was Cuetos responsibility to first inquire how much he was
going to be charged for notarization. And once informed, he was free to accept or reject it, or
negotiate for a lower amount. In this case, complainants concern that the other party to the
construction agreement was the son of respondent notary and that his non-availment of
respondents service might jeopardize the agreement, was purely speculative. There was no
compulsion to avail of respondents service.l^vvphi1.net Moreover, his failure to negotiate
the amount of the fee was an implicit acquiescence to the terms of the notarial service. His
subsequent act of paying in cash and in check all the more proved it.

However, we agree with the IBP that respondents conduct in filing a criminal case for
violation of BP 22 against complainant (when the check representing the P20,000 balance
was dishonored for insufficient funds) was highly improper.
Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that "[a] lawyer
shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial
action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud." Likewise, in Canon 14 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics it states that, "[c]ontroversies with clients concerning compensation are
to be avoided by the lawyer so far as shall be compatible with his self-respect and with his
right to receive reasonable recompense for his service; and lawsuits with the clients should
be resorted to only to prevent injustice, imposition or fraud."1a\^/phi1.net

There was clearly no imposition, injustice or fraud obtaining in this case to justify the legal
action taken by respondent. As borne out by the records, complainant Cueto had already
paid more than half of respondents fee. To resort to a suit to recover the balance reveals a
certain kind of shameful conduct and inconsiderate behavior that clearly undermines the
tenet embodied in Canon 15 that "[A] lawyer should observe candor, fairness and loyalty in
all his dealings and transactions with his client." And what can we say about the failure of
respondents son Jose III to pay his own obligation to complainant Cueto? It in all probability
explains why Cueto ran short of funds. Respondent therefore should have been more
tolerant of the delay incurred by complainant Cueto.

We cannot overstress the duty of a lawyer to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession.9 He can do this by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the
courts and to his clients. He should always remind himself that the legal profession is
imbued with public service. Remuneration is a mere incident.

Although we acknowledge that every lawyer must be paid what is due to him, he must never
resort to judicial action to recover his fees, in a manner that detracts from the dignity of the
profession.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Jose Jimenez, Jr. is hereby SEVERELY REPRIMANDED for violating Canon
20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. MTJ-92-716 October 25, 1995

MA. BLYTH B. ABADILLA, complainant,


vs.
JUDGE JOSE C. TABILIRAN, JR., Presiding Judge, 8th MCTC, Manukan and Jose
Dalman, 9th Judicial Region, Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte, respondent.

PER CURIAM:

We have a list of these crooked judges whose actuations have been found to be patently
wrong and indefensible. There ought to be no objection or compunction in weeding them out
from the service. If they are not booted out now, it will take from here to eternity to clean
this Augean stable. 1

Indeed, our judicial structure is supposed to be manned by magistrates chosen for their
probity, integrity, impartiality, dedication and learning. And so, any judge wanting in any of
these qualities should be broomed off and out of the bench in order to improve the judicial
landscape. Screening off the misfits, considering the great number of judges and justices in
the country at present, is the arduous and Herculean task of this Court. The effort if
dramatized with rectitude and sincerity should bring about the strengthening of the people's
abiding faith in democracy and the integrity of our courts of justice.

The herein administrative case arose from a complaint, dated September 8, 1992, filed by
Ma. Blyth B. Abadilla, a Clerk of Court assigned at the sala of respondent, Judge Jose C.
Tabiliran, Jr., of the 8th Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Respondent stands charged with "gross immorality, deceitful conduct, and corruption
unbecoming of a judge."

In her verified complaint, complainant Abadilla, in respect to the charge of gross immorality
on the part of the respondent, contends that respondent had scandalously and publicly
cohabited with a certain Priscilla Q. Baybayan during the existence of his legitimate
marriage with Teresita Banzuela. Adding ignominy to an ignominious situation, respondent
allegedly shamefacedly contracted marriage with the said Priscilla Baybayan on May 23,
1986. Complainant claims that this was a bigamous union because of the fact that the
respondent was then still very much married to Teresita Banzuela.

Furthermore, respondent falsely represented himself as "single" in the marriage contract


(Exh. "A") and dispensed with the requirements of a marriage contract by invoking
cohabitation with Baybayan for five years.

Of persuasive effect on the charge of immorality is the fact that, earlier, respondent's wife
filed a complaint in the case entitled, Teresita B. Tabiliran vs. Atty. Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., 115
SCRA 451. Respondent stood charged therein for abandoning the family home and living
with a certain Leonora Pillarion with whom he had a son.

In respect of the charge of deceitful conduct, complainant claims that respondent caused to
be registered as "legitimate", his three illegitimate children with Priscilla Baybayan, namely:

Buenasol B. Tabiliran born on July 14, 1970

Venus B. Tabiliran born on Sept. 7, 1971

Saturn B. Tabiliran born on Sept. 20, 1975

by falsely executing separate affidavits stating that the delayed registration was due
to inadvertence, excusable negligence or oversight, when in truth and in fact,
respondent knew that these children cannot be legally registered as legitimate.

The following acts are alleged to have constituted the charge of corruption:
(1) Utilizing his office time, while being a judge, in the private practice of law by the
preparation and notarization of documents, out of which he charged fees beyond the
authorized rates allowed as Ex-Officio Notary Public. These acts which, according to the
charge, amount to the private practice of law, prejudice public interest.

Complainant submitted the following documents in support of these allegations:

a) Affidavit of Ponciana Geromo (Annex "B"), attesting to the fact that


respondent Judge Tabiliran prepared a Simultaneous Deed of Sale, (Annex "C",
Doc. No. 901, Page No. 77, Book No. V, Series of 1991 of Ex-Officio Notary
Public Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr.) and collect P600.00 from the vendees (par. 10(a) a-
1 Complaint, p. 9 records);

b) Receipt prepared under instruction of the respondent showing that he


received P250.00 thru MCTC Aide Ely O. Inot for preparation and notarization
of Joint Affidavit declaring the correct ages of Carlo Manzano, Lodmila Cinco,
Kadapi Amad, Jul Samud and Amman Eddai dated November 12, 1991, when
the legal fees therefor should have been P10.00 only (Annex "D") (par. 10(a)
a-2 Complaint, p. 9 records);

c) Another receipt (Annex "E") prepared thru the direction of the respondent
dated November 12, 1991, showing that said respondent received from
Reynaldo Subebe the sum of P150.00 for preparation and notarization by him
of a Joint Affidavit declaring the correct age of Agata Luna, Rosie Miranda and
Jose Juneser Adrias (par. 10(a) a-c Complaint, p. 9 records);

d) Still another receipt (Annex "F") dated November 12, 1991, signed by the
respondent himself showing that he received from Nelly Baradas the sum of
P50.00 for preparation and notarization of Joint Affidavit attesting to the
correct age of one Luzviminda Jacoba (par. 10(a) a-d Complaint, p. 9 records);

e) Another receipt (Annex "G") dated November 12, 1991, issued by the
respondent, showing that he received from Torres P. Modai the sum of P50.00,
thru the same Ely O. Inot, MCTC Aide, for preparation of Joint Affidavit
attesting to the correct age of Flores Jalampangan (par. 10 (a) a-e Complaint,
pp. 9 & 10 records).

(2) Accepting bribes from parties-litigants in his Court as supported by an affidavit (Annex
"M") executed by a certain Calixto Calunod, a court aide, stating that he saw Edna Siton,
complainant in a criminal case tried by respondent, hand over to the latter a bag of fish and
squid which respondent Judge received.

(3) Preparing an Affidavit of Desistance in a case filed with his sala out of which he collected
the amount of P500.00 from the accused Antonio Oriola, as supported by the affidavits of
Arcelita Salvador, the complainant therein, and Benito Sagario, one of the persons present
when the accused perpetrated the acts aforesaid. (Submitted as Annexes "I" and "J",
respectively.)
Complainant manifests that the commission by the respondent of the foregoing acts renders
him unfit to occupy the exalted position of a dispenser of justice. By the example shown by
the respondent, the public had allegedly lost confidence in the administration of justice,
perceiving as is evident to see that the person occupying the position of a judge lacks the
morality and probity required of one occupying such a high office.

Respondent, in his comment, dated December 25, 1992, declared that his cohabitation with
Priscilla Baybayan is not and was neither bigamous nor immoral because he started living
with Priscilla Baybayan only after his first wife had already left and abandoned the family
home in 1966 and, since then, and until the present her whereabouts is not known and
respondent has had no news of her being alive. He further avers that 25 years had already
elapsed since the disappearance of his first wife when he married Priscilla Baybayan in 1986.

Respondent cited Sec. 3(w), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court and Art. 390 of the Civil Code in
order to show the legality of his acts:

After the absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the
absentee still lives, he is considered dead for all purposes except for those of
succession. (Rule 131, Sec. 3(w), Rules of Court.)

After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the


absentee still lives, he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for
those of succession. (Art. 390, Civil Code.)

The case of Jones vs. Hortiguela, 64 Phil. 179, where this Court held that for the purpose of
the civil marriage law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an
absentee is to respondent's mind, a case in point.

He admits that he indicated in his marriage contract that he was then "single", but he
denied the charge that he acted with deceit or false misrepresentation, claiming that, since
there were only three words to choose from, namely: Single, Widow or Divorced, he preferred
to choose the word "single", it being the most appropriate. Besides, both he and Priscilla
executed a joint affidavit wherein his former marriage to Banzuela was honestly divulged.

On the charge of corruption, respondent submitted certifications (Annexes "4" & "5") from
the Mayor of Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte, attesting to the fact that there was no Notary
Public in Manukan and, as such, respondent may be allowed to notarize documents. He
denied having charged exorbitant fees. He claims that all the amounts received by him were
used to subsidize office expenses, since the funds he had been receiving from the municipal
government were not enough to cover expenses in maintaining his office. Respondent
submitted a certification (Annex "6") from the Accounting Department of the Municipal
Government of Manukan to the effect that his yearly expenditures were more than the
yearly appropriations.

Respondent finds support in Canon 4, Rule 4.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which states:

A Judge may, with due regard to official duties, engage in activities to


improve . . . the administration of justice.
Respondent vehemently denies the charge of bribery claiming that it was inconceivable for
him to receive a bag full of fish and squid since his residence was 42 kilometers from Jose
Dalman where his courtroom or office was located. It takes one an hour and a half by bus to
reach Katipunan and so, by the time he reaches his house, the fish and the squid should
have become rotten. In support of his denials, respondent submitted as Annex "8", an
affidavit of Ely D. Inot, their court Interpreter who declared:

xxx xxx xxx

3. That last June 6, 1991, I was with the Municipal Judge, Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr.,
from the morning until we went home in the afternoon and we in fact dined
together in the local Carenderia of Jose Dalman as it is the usual ways of the
Judge to eat lunch together with the court personnel;

4. That when we went home in the afternoon of that day we were also
together riding in a bus, the Lillian Express and until I drop in Roxas and he
proceeded to Katipunan where his residence is;

5. That all the time during that day I did not noticed him bringing anything
except his "Hand Bag" which he used to carry in going to the office; (Annex
"8", Affidavit of Ely O. Inot, December 17, 1992.)

xxx xxx xxx

Finally, respondent tags as a fabricated lie the charge that he prepared an Affidavit of
Desistance in a case pending in his sala and thereafter charged the accused, Antonio Oriola,
the sum of P500.00 for legal services. The complainant, he said, was the one who induced
Arcelita Salvador (the complainant in the rape case) to execute an affidavit (Annex "I") in
support of the charge of corruption against respondent.

Complainant's filing of the present case was motivated by revenge and resentment because,
earlier, respondent filed an administrative case (A.M. No. P-91-597) against her for
"Insubordination and Serious Misconduct". The Supreme Court decided to reprimand her
with a warning that a repetition of her acts will be severely dealt with. Respondent claims
that the complainant had nevertheless repeatedly continued to do acts of insubordination in
the following manner:

1) She continues to keep court records and has kept refusing to hand them
over to respondent inspite of verbal and written orders;

2) She refused to receive a memorandum from the Vice-Mayor requiring the


Clerk of Court to submit an Annual report;

3) She refused to prepare the said annual report required of her as Clerk of
Court;

4) She continue to refuse to obey just and lawful orders of the Court.
On April 12, 1993, by resolution of this Court En Banc, the herein administrative case was
referred to Executive Judge Jesus O. Angeles of the Regional Trial Court, Dipolog City, for
investigation, report and recommendation. Judge Angeles found respondent guilty only on
two (2) counts of corruption: (1) for acting as notary public and collecting fees for his
services; and (2) for preparing an affidavit of desistance in a case pending in his Court and
receiving payment for it.

In his report and recommendation dated August 3, 1993, Executive Judge Angeles found
that:

ON GROSS IMMORALITY:

In contracting marriage with Priscilla Q. Baybayan on May 23, 1986, (p. 13 of


the records), respondent did not hide the fact that he was married to Teresita
T. Banzuela, having disclosed it in his affidavit jointly executed with Priscilla Q.
Baybayan on May 23, 1986 (p. 115 of the records), particularly paragraph 4
thereof which reads:

4. That affiant Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr., was formerly married to Teresita T.


Banzuela but who left and abandoned their family home sometime in 1965 in
Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, and until now at present her whereabouts is
not known.

It was therefore a marriage contracted under Article 83 (2) of the Civil Code
which, although bigamous, remains valid until automatically terminated by the
recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse (Art. 42,
Family Code). Respondent's assertion that since 1965 to the present, his first
wife Teresita T. Banzuela had left their conjugal dwelling and did not return,
her whereabouts being unknown, was not controverted. Living as husband
and wife pursuant to an authorized bigamous marriage, respondent cannot be
said to be acting in an immoral and scandalous manner, and the immoral
stigma of extra-marital union since 1969 duly declared in their aforesaid joint
affidavit, may be considered cleansed by their marriage in 1986, if Art. 1395
of the Civil Code on ratification on contracts in general is allowed to be
applied, it being ratification of marital cohabitation. Article 76 of Civil Code,
now Art. 34 of the Family Colde was intended to facilitate and encourage the
marriage of persons who have been living in a state of concubinage for more
than five years (Tolentino, Civil Code, Book I, 1974 Ed., p. 245, cited in Ernesto
L. Pineda, Family Code, 1992 Ed., p. 38). Indicating his civil status in the
marriage contract as "single" is hardly considered a misrepresentation of fact,
specially to the solemnizing officer, Municipal Mayor Jacinto C. Ruedas, Jr. to
whom the aforesaid joint affidavit was submitted.

ON DECEITFUL CONDUCT:

Respondent's children begotten with Priscilla Q. Baybayan, namely: Buenasol


B. Tabiliran, Venus B. Tabiliran and Saturn B. Tabiliran, all of whom were born
before their marriage, were disclosed and made known to the solemnizing
officer and the latter himself, in his affidavit dated May 23, 1986 (p. 116 of the
records) which supports the marriage contract of respondent with Priscilla Q.
Baybayan, having shown such fact.

Exhibit P which purports to be an affidavit of Lydia T. Zanoria dated May 27,


1993, consisting of three pages, was submitted by the complainant for the
purpose of proving her charge that the respondent falsely executed his three
separate affidavits, namely: Exhibit K dated May 24, 1983 regarding the late
registration of birth of his daughter Buenasol B. Tabiliran; Exhibit M dated May
28, 1988 regarding the late registration of birth of his third child Saturn B.
Tabiliran; and his affidavit dated May 27, 1988, Exhibit O, in reference to the
late registration of birth of his second child Venus B. Tabiliran, stating
inadvertence, excusable negligence or oversight as the reasons for the
delayed registration of their births, without however presenting said affiant
Mrs. Zanoria, consequently denying respondent the opportunity to cross
examine her. Her affidavit is not among those brought out in the pre-hearing
conference, and was not discussed during the hearing itself, submitting it only
after the investigation proper was terminated. The supposed affiant claimed
she was the government midwife who attended to the births of respondent's
three children, denying, as the affidavit shows, negligence, inadvertence or
oversight on her part to register their birth on time. Not having been
presented for respondent to confront her, or an opportunity to do so, Exhibit P
cannot be considered evidence of the charge. An affidavit is hearsay unless
the affiant is presented (People vs. Villeza, 127 SCRA 349), or admitted by the
party against whom it is presented.

ON CORRUPTION:

1. Acting as Notary Public during office hours, and collecting fees:

Respondent has admitted having prepared the documents and collected fees,
in the instances specified in par. 10 of the complaint, namely: (1) affidavit of
Ponciana Geromo; (2) Joint Affidavit of Carlo Manzano, Lodmila Cinco, Kadapi
Amad, Jul Samud and Amman Eddai; (3) Joint Affidavit of Agata Luna, Rosie
Miranda and Jose Juneser Adrias; (4) Joint Affidavit on the correct age of
Luzviminda Jacoba; and (5) Joint Affidavit on the correct age of Flores
Jalampangan, but not necessarily on the accuracy of the amounts therein
stated as having been collected by him from them (please see Pre-Hearing
Order of May 20, 1993 of the Investigating Judge). Seeking justification of his
acts, respondent submitted Annexes 4 & 5 of his comments (pp. 118 and 119,
records) which are certifications of Manukan Mayor Eugene U. Caballero
attesting that in the absence of a Notary Public in Manukan town, respondent
who is a Judge thereat was allowed "to prepare and ligalize (sic) documents".

He declared "the fees derived from the preparation and notarization of


documents were mostly used by respondent to buy supplies and materials of
his Office", explaining that his office needs cannot be sustained by the
appropriations of the local government which are inadequate. On page 120 of
the records, his Annex 6 shows a shortage in his appropriations for supplies.
And supplies from the Supreme Court can only be obtained if secured
personally but has to assume the expenses for transportation, freight and
handling.

Respondent Judge maintains that the Code of Judicial conduct does not
prohibit him from acting as Notary Public, and the fees he has received were
much lower than the rates prescribed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, submitting Annex 3, p. 117 of the records, to
prove it.

Further justifying his act under Canon 4, Rule 4.01 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct which provides that a judge may, with due regard to official duties,
engaged in activities to improve the administration of justice, respondent
claims that due to his efforts, he was able to secure an extension room of his
office covering a floor area of 24 square meters, from the Sangguniang
Pampook of Region IX based in Zamboanga City, costing P19,000.00 per
certification shown in his Annex 7 (page 121 of the records).

In the light of 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct vis-a-vis the power of Municipal
Trial Court Judges and Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judges to act in the capacity
of Notary Public Ex-Officio, the Honorable Supreme Court in A.M. No. 89-11-
1303, MTC, Dec. 19, 1989, has ruled:

MTC and MCTC Judges assigned to municipalities or circuits with no lawyers or


notaries public may, in their capacity as notary 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 (Lapea, 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.

Although absence of a notary public commissioned for, and residing in


Manukan town, even in Jose Dalman which is within his circuit is confirmed,
respondent Judge while he may be justified in so acting as notary public, did
not, however, comply with requirement No. 1 which obliged him to charge for
the account of the Government and turn-over to the municipal treasurer all
notarial fees. And there is no way of determining the truth of his assertion that
the notarial fees he collected were "mostly used" to buy supplies and
materials for his office, absent any accounting.

2. Accepting Bribe from Parties-litigants:

Admitting the existence of Annex H found on page 21 in the records,


respondent, however, denied the imputation therein contained by affiant
Calixto Calunod that he received a sando bag full of fish and squid from a
certain Edna Siton who had a case with respondent's court as complainant in
a certain criminal case. Instead of calling the affiant himself, complainant
presented the Court Interpreter Ely O. Inot, who "confirmed that there was
squid and fish contained in a plastic bag which was left in Aseniero Carenderia
by a person unknown to her and some members of the Court staff. When
informed by the carenderia owner that the stuff was intended for Judge
Tabiliran, the latter told them to cook it, and they afterwards partook of it
without the Judge who already boarded the passenger bus". (Record of
Proceedings, p. 1, par. No. 1, dated June 11, 1993). Being her witness,
complainant is bound by her testimony. This particular charge is, therefore,
not proved.

3. Preparing Affidavit of Desistance and Collecting Fee for his Services:

Under this count, two affidavits both sworn before 2nd Asst. Provincial Fiscal
Valeriano B. Lagula were submitted: one by Arcelita Salvador, complainant in
an attempted rape case who was categorical in her declaration that
respondent Judge asked and received from Pitoy Oriola, brother of accused
Antonio Oriola the amount of P500.00 after the Judge prepared the affidavit of
desistance and motion to dismiss which he made her sign (Annex I, p. 40
records). Benito Sagario who was present executed another separate affidavit,
Annex J found on page 41 in the records, confirming it. In admitting the
affidavit, respondent, however, denied the imputation, asserting that it is
false, but without confronting them or presenting witnesses to dispute their
accusation. He could have demanded that the affiants, including the persons
they mentioned were present in the transaction, namely: accused Antonio
Oriola, his brother Pitoy Oriola, Ignacio Salvador, and INC Minister Antonio
Calua be required to appear for his confrontation, but respondent chose not,
contented himself only with the explanation that it was just the handiwork of
complainant Abadilla and her husband, a major in the military who is an active
member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo of which affiant Arcelita Salvador also
belonged, which is bare and unsubstantiated. No other conclusion can be
drawn other than holding, as the Investigating Judge does, that this particular
charge is true. Evidently, Judge Tabiliran wants to avoid meeting them by way
of confrontation. If he is innocent, and is certain the charge is fabricated, he
will surely raise hell to insist that he confronts them face to face. Clearly, his
deportment betrays his insistence of innocence.

On Respondent's Counterclaim:

It was not proven. On the contrary, the controverting evidence shows that the
records of Criminal Case No. 2279 referred to in his Annex 9, p. 123 of the
records, were not in the possession of complainant. Quite obviously, Ely O.
Inot, respondent's Court Interpreter tried to cover up the fact that the same
were already being kept by Judge Tabiliran before he issued the memorandum,
Annex 9. Complainant, who is respondent's Clerk of Court was not, therefore,
in a position to comply with his Order.
Also, Mrs. Abadilla's failure to prepare the annual report of the Court in 1992
as called for in Annexes 10 and 10-A was, contrary to respondent's claim, not
by reason of her obstinate refusal to obey her superior but, by sheer
impossibility to comply, considering that monthly reports upon which the
annual report shall be based, were not prepared by her, not because of her
refusal to do so which is among those included in her job description, but
because the Judge himself took the work from her for no other reason than to
establish the false impression that the complainant is disobedient to the
Judge, and does not attend to her duties.

By and large, there is no harmony in their office. Complainant and respondent


are not in talking terms. They are hostile to each other. Respondent's
complaint that Mrs. Abadilla spat saliva in front of him whenever they meet
each other; destroying the Court dry seal by throwing it at him one time she
was mad; showing face; and sticking out her tongue to him, are all puerile
acts which the undersigned cannot conclude as sufficiently established even
with the testimony of Mrs. Ely O. Inot which is far from being definite and
categorical, whose actuation is understandable because Judge Tabiliran, being
her superior, has moral ascendancy over her (Record of Proceedings, June 11,
1993).

The undersigned believes that the problem is on Judge Tabiliran, and not on
Mrs. Abadilla, who has been in the service as Clerk of Court under a previous
Judge of the same Court for quite long without any complaint having been
filed. The evidence disputing his counterclaim tends to show that respondent
tried to build up a situation of undesirability against his Clerk of Court whom
he wanted pulled out from her position in his Court.

Other Matters Not Covered By The Complaint And Comments:

The authority to investigate being confined only to matters alleged in the


complaint on the basis of which respondent filed his comments, other matters
not therein covered which complainant brought out by way of presenting
documentary exhibits, (from Exhibit AAA to HHH), are not subject of this
report and recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION:

The charge of GROSS IMMORALITY and DECEITFUL CONDUCT have not been
proven, but the undersigned believes evidence is sufficient to sustain
pronouncement of guilt on two counts of CORRUPTION, namely: acting as
notary public and collecting fees for his services in preparing affidavit of
desistance of a case in his Court. Likewise, acts of oppression, deceit and false
imputation against his Clerk of Court are found duly established.

WHEREFORE, suspension of the respondent Judge from the service for a


period of three months is recommended.
THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, We hold the respondent culpable for gross immorality, he
having scandalously and openly cohabited with the said Priscilla Baybayan during the
existence of his marriage with Teresita B. Tabiliran.

Contrary to his protestations that he started to cohabit with Priscilla Baybayan only after his
first wife, Teresita Tabiliran, had long abandoned him and the conjugal home in 1966, it
appears from the record that he had been scandalously and openly living with said Priscilla
Baybayan as early as 1970 as shown by the fact that he begot three children by her, namely
Buenasol, Venus and Saturn, all surnamed Tabiliran. Buenasol was born on July 14, 1970;
Venus was born on September 7, 1971; while Saturn was born on September 20, 1975.
Evidently, therefore, respondent and Priscilla Baybayan had openly lived together even while
respondent's marriage to his first wife was still valid and subsisting. The provisions of Sec.
3(w) of the Rules of Court and Art. 390 of the Civil Code which provide that, after an absence
of seven years, it being unknown whether or not the absentee still lives, the absent spouse
shall be considered dead for all purposes, except for those of succession, cannot be invoked
by respondent. By respondent's own allegation, Teresita B. Tabiliran left the conjugal home in
1966. From that time on up to the time that respondent started to cohabit with Priscilla
Baybayan in 1970, only four years had elapsed. Respondent had no right to presume
therefore that Teresita B. Tabiliran was already dead for all purposes. Thus, respondent's
actuation of cohabiting with Priscilla Baybayan in 1970 when his marriage to Teresita B.
Tabiliran was still valid and subsisting constitutes gross immoral conduct. It makes mockery
of the inviolability and sanctity of marriage as a basic social institution. According to Justice
Malcolm: "The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. It is
not only a civil contract, but is a new relation, an institution on the maintenance of which the
public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward
legalizing matrimony." (Civil Code 1993 Ed., Volume 1, p. 122, Ramon C. Aquino).

By committing the immorality in question, respondent violated the trust reposed on his high
office and utterly failed to live up to the noble ideals and strict standards of morality
required of the law profession. (Imbing v. Tiongson, 229 SCRA 690).

As to respondent's act of eventually marrying Priscilla Baybayan in 1986, We are not in a


position to determine the legality thereof, absent all the facts for a proper determination.
Sufficient for Our consideration is the finding of the Investigating Judge, that the said
marriage is authorized under Art. 83 (2) of the Civil Code.

With respect to the charge of deceitful conduct, We hold that the charge has likewise been
duly established. An examination of the birth certificates (Exhs. "J", "L", & "M") of
respondent's three illegitimate children with Priscilla Baybayan clearly indicate that these
children are his legitimate issues. It was respondent who caused the entry therein. It is
important to note that these children, namely, Buenasol, Venus and Saturn, all surnamed
Tabiliran, were born in the year 1970, 1971, and 1975, respectively, and prior to the
marriage of respondent to Priscilla, which was in 1986. As a lawyer and a judge, respondent
ought to know that, despite his subsequent marriage to Priscilla, these three children cannot
be legitimated nor in any way be considered legitimate since at the time they were born,
there was an existing valid marriage between respondent and his first wife, Teresita B.
Tabiliran. The applicable legal provision in the case at bar is Article 269 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines (R.A. 386 as amended) which provides:
Art. 269. Only natural children can be legitimated. Children born outside of
wedlock of parents who, at the time of the conception of the former, were not
disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, are natural.

Legitimation is limited to natural children and cannot include those born of adulterous
relations (Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855). The Family Code: (Executive Order, No. 209),
which took effect on August 3, 1988, reiterated the above-mentioned provision thus:

Art. 177. Only children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who,
at the time of the conception of the former, were not disqualified by any
impediment to marry each other may be legitimated.

The reasons for this limitation are given as follows:

1) The rationale of legitimation would be destroyed;

2) It would be unfair to the legitimate children in terms of successional rights;

3) There will be the problem of public scandal, unless social mores change;

4) It is too violent to grant the privilege of legitimation to adulterous children


as it will destroy the sanctity of marriage;

5) It will be very scandalous, especially if the parents marry many years after
the birth of the child. (The Family Code, p. 252, Alicia v. Sempio Diy).

It is clear, therefore, that no legal provision, whether old or new, can give refuge to
the deceitful actuations of the respondent.

It is also erroneous for respondent to state that his first wife Teresita disappeared in 1966
and has not been heard from since then. It appears that on December 8, 1969, Teresita filed
a complaint against respondent entitled, Tabiliran vs. Tabiliran (G.R. No. 1155451) which was
decided by this Court in 1982. In the said case, respondent was sued for abandonment of his
family home and for living with another woman with whom he allegedly begot a child.
Respondent was, however, exonerated because of the failure of his wife to substantiate the
charges. However, respondent was reprimanded for having executed a "Deed of Settlement
of Spouses To Live Separately from Bed", with a stipulation that they allow each of the other
spouse to live with another man or woman as the case may be, without the objection and
intervention of the other. It was also in the same case where respondent declared that he
has only two children, namely, Reynald Antonio and Jose III, both surnamed Tabiliran, who
are his legitimate issues. Thus, his statements in his affidavits marked as Exhs. "M-4" and
"O-4" that Saturn and Venus are his third and second children respectively, are erroneous,
deceitful, misleading and detrimental to his legitimate children.

With respect to the charge of corruption, We agree with the findings of the Investigating
Judge that respondent should be found culpable for two counts of corruption: (1) acting as
Notary Public; and (2) collecting legal fees in preparing an Affidavit of Desistance of a case
in his court.
Respondent himself admitted that he prepared and notarized the documents (Annexes "C",
"D", "E", "F" and "G") wherein he charged notarial fees. Though he was legally allowed to
notarize documents and charge fees therefor due to the fact that there has been no Notary
Public in the town of Manukan, this defense is not sufficient to justify his otherwise corrupt
and illegal acts.

Section 252 of the Notarial Law expressly provides thus:

Sec. 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
money 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.
(Notarial Law, Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, p. 202.)

Respondent's failure to properly account and turn over the fees collected by him
as Ex-Officio notary to the municipal government as required by law raises the
presumption that he had put such fund to his personal use.

With respect to the charge that respondent prepared an Affidavit of Desistance in a rape
case filed before his sala for which he collected the amount of P500.00 from the complainant
therein, respondent merely denied the said imputation but failed to offer any evidence to
support such denial. Denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is a
negative and self-serving evidence which deserves no weight in law and cannot be given
greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative
matters (People v. Amaguin, 229 SCRA 166). It is unfortunate that respondent had failed to
adhere to, and let this remind him once again of Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, to
wit:

Canon 2

A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all


activities.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Jose C. Tabiliran, Jr. guilty of gross immorality,
deceitful conduct and corruption and, consequently, orders his dismissal from the service.
Such dismissal shall carry with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of leave credits and
retirement benefits, and disqualification from re-employment in the government-service, all
without prejudice to criminal or civil liability.

SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 6689 August 24, 2011


RIZALINA L. GEMINA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. ISIDRO S. MADAMBA, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We review Resolution No. XVIII-2008-101 dated March 6, 2008 of the Board of Governors of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), dismissing the complaint filed by Rizalina L.
Gemina (complainant). The complaint charged Atty. Isidro S. Madamba (respondent) with
deceit, malpractice and gross negligence, and prayed for his suspension/disbarment. 1

The complainant alleged that she is an heir of the registered owner of several parcels of land
located in Laoag City.2 These parcels of land were unlawfully sold by Francisco Eugenio in
connivance with the respondent. The documents pertaining to the transactions over these
lands were notarized by the respondent either without the presence of the affiants or with
their forged signatures. The documents the complainant referred to were:

1. Waiver of Rights & Interest

2. Affidavit of Buyer/Transferee

3. Deed of Adjudication3 & Sale

4. Affidavit of Non-Tenancy

5. Deed of Absolute Sale

The complainant alleged that the Waiver of Rights and Interests was submitted by Eugenio
to the Department of Agrarian Reform. This document shows that it was entered in the
respondents Notarial Register as Doc. No. 2283, Page No. 252, Book No. VIII, Series of 2003.
However, when she went to the Office of the Clerk of Court (OCC), Regional Trial Court,
Isabela, to request for a copy, she found out that Doc. No. 2283, Page No. 252, Book No. VIII,
Series of 2003 was an Affidavit of Buyer/Transferee allegedly executed by the Spouses Efren
Alonzo and Imelda Alonzo on September 29, 2003. In the column "REMARKS" of Document
No. 2283, the word cancelled was written, but no reason was given for the cancellation, nor
was a copy of the alleged cancelled document in the records. The same Affidavit of
Buyer/Transferee was also entered in the respondents Notarial Register as Doc. No. 2285,
Page No. 253, Book No. VIII, Series of 2003. The complainant submitted a Certification dated
May 3, 2004 issued by Clerk of Court Artemio H. Quidilla, Jr., that a certified true copy of Doc.
No. 2283, Page No. 252, Book No. VIII, Series of 2003 cannot be issued because the
respondent did not submit notarial reports for the years 2003 and 2004, although he was
commissioned as a Notary Public for these years.4

The complainant also asked for a certified true copy of a Deed of Adjudication and Sale
allegedly executed by Eugenio and the other heirs, and notarized by the respondent on July
22, 2003. The instrument shows that this document was entered in the respondents Notarial
Register as Doc. No. 2263, Page No. 248, Book No. VIII, Series of 2003, but no copy was
submitted to the OCC. In the column "REMARKS," the words "without copy" appeared,
without stating the reason for the absence of a copy. Clerk of Court Quidilla issued a
Certification dated June 21, 2004 that indeed, no copy was submitted. 5

In another unlawful sale of a parcel of land, an Affidavit of Non-Tenancy was notarized by the
respondent. It was entered in his Notarial Register as Doc. No. 2448, Page No. 276, Book No.
VIII, Series of 2004. The affidavit referred to a Deed of Sale involving a 2,500-square meter
property. The Deed of Sale was notarized by the respondent on November 14, 2002 and
entered in his Notarial Register as Doc. No. 2212, Page No. 239, Book No. VIII, Series of
2002. To verify the authenticity of the Deed of Sale, the complainant tried to secure a copy
but she discovered that no such Deed of Sale existed. In fact, a different document
corresponds to Doc. No. 2212, Page No. 239, Book No. VIII, Series of 2002. It refers to an
Affidavit of Discrepancy, instead of a Deed of Sale. On the column "REMARKS," the word
"cancelled" appeared without indicating the reason for the cancellation. This was confirmed
by Clerk of Court Quidilla in his 1st Indorsement dated July 16, 2004, stating that "Doc. No.
2212, Series of 2002 pertains to an Affidavit of Discrepancy executed by Joseph Lim
Clemente on November 15, 2002."6

In his Comments and Compliance dated August 29, 2006,7 the respondent admitted the
complainants allegations on the notarization of the subject documents, but denied any
participation in the sale and transfer of the lands covered by the documents. He claimed
that it was his secretary who prepared and drafted the documents. He claimed that his only
participation was to affix his signature on the documents; he was already 82 years old and
insulin dependent, so he had no more time to prepare documents and enter documents in
his notarial register. He begged for leniency and consideration from the Court, and asked for
forgiveness for his inadvertent acts. He apologized and committed himself not to repeat
these misdeeds.

In a resolution dated November 29, 2006, we referred the complaint to the IBP for
investigation, report and recommendation.8

In the position paper she submitted to the IBP, the complainant reiterated her charges
against the respondent, further stating that as a member of the Philippine Bar, the
respondent allowed himself to be used as a Notary Public to illegally enable third parties to
claim rights over properties to which the complainant has hereditary rights. By notarizing
documents through false representations, without the signatories personally present before
him as required under the Notarial Law, the respondent should be held guilty of dishonesty
and conduct unbecoming of a member of the Philippine Bar. 9

The respondent likewise reiterated in his position paper10 his explanations contained in his
comment submitted to this Court -

Respondent does not deny having affix[ed] his signatures in the subject documents but he
was never a participant in the alleged unlawful sale. His participation is limited to the
affixing [of] his signature in the subject documents. The alleged manipulation was
committed by her [sic] clerk[-]secretary who enjoyed his trust and confidence having been
in said position for almost two decades. Said clerk-secretary is responsible for the
preparation and entry of the documents in the Notarial Book. As such, he has all the chance
to do [the] things he wanted to do, which of course respondent has no least suspicion to
suspect him to do illegal and unlawful acts to his Notarial Register.

When respondent was still strong, he personally prepare [sic] document and personally do
[sic] the entry of his Notarial Documents in his Notarial Book, but in the early [year] of 1999,
his sickness was aggravated and he became insulin dependent. This necessarily weakens his
body and eyesight. And so he has no choice except to trust said secretary-clerk for the
preparation and entry of notarial documents in his notarial register.

On February 12, 2008, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala submitted to the IBP Board
of Governors her Report and Recommendation,11 recommending the dismissal of the
complaint for lack of merit, finding that:

In her Complaint, complainant alleged that she is an heir of a registered owner of some
parcels of land in Laoag City. However, no documentary evidence was presented to support
the same. She insisted that respondent notarized documents without the appearance before
him of the persons who executed the same, but no clear and sufficient evidence was also
presented.

Rule 130, Section 14 of the Rules of Court provides that "Entries in official records made in
the performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the
performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts
therein stated." In the herein case, although complainant made it appear that she has
evidence to prove that there was anomaly in the notarization of the subject documents, she
failed to present the same.

An attorney enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges preferred
against him until the contrary is proved and that as an officer of the court he has performed
his duties in accordance with his oath (Acosta v. Serrano, 75 SCRA 254; Atienza v.
Evangelista, 80 SCRA 338). The burden of proof rests upon the complainant to overcome the
presumption and establish his charges by a clear preponderance of evidence (Baldoman v.
Luspo, 64 SCRA 74; In re De Guzman, 55 SCRA 139).

The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution No. XVIII-2008-101 dated March 6, 2008
adopted and approved Commissioner Maalas Report and Recommendation, and dismissed
the complaint against the respondent for lack of merit.12

We totally disagree with the findings of Commissioner Maala for the following reasons: First,
the IBP cannot inquire into whether the complainant is an heir of the registered owner of the
land. It is not within its authority to determine whether the complainant has a legal right to
the properties involved in the transactions and to require her to submit proof to that effect.
Its function is limited to disciplining lawyers, and it cannot determine issues of law and facts
regarding the parties legal rights to a dispute. Second, from the respondents own
admissions, it cannot be doubted that he is guilty of the charges against him. His admissions
show that he had notarized documents without reading them and without ascertaining what
the documents purported to be. He had completely entrusted to his secretary the keeping
and the maintenance of his Notarial Register. This eventually resulted in inaccuracies in the
entry of the notarial acts in his Notarial Register.

The excerpts from the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing held on
November 12, 2007, presided by IBP Commissioner Oliver L. Pantaleon, 13 show:

MR. GEMINA:

Your Honor, itong Affidavit of Discrepancy is not an Affidavit of Discrepancy. Minamanipulate


niya yong ano This is a Deed of Sale. Pinalitan niya yong ano, eh, document number. This
is a Deed of Sale pertaining to the property Noong sinita na namin siya pinalitan naniya,
the same number pero iba na ang pangalan. Affidavit of Discrepancy na ang pinalabas. The
same document number, page 3, number 8. And we were able to get a copy of these
documents.

COMM. PANTALEON:

You can submit that also.

ATTY. MADAMBA:

That is really true, Your Honor, because I have said I am not the one anymore preparing my
reports on notarial. I relied on my secretary. So everything there will present to me and I sign
it believing that all are clear.

COMM. PANTALEON:

So you admit that particular allegation.

ATTY. MADAMBA:

Yes, that I have notarized that two documents.

MR. GEMINA:

Not only that, Your Honor, there are several documents we can prove.

ATTY. MADAMBA:

Well, I have already submitted.

The Court is likewise convinced that the respondent notarized the Waiver of Rights and
Interests executed by one Juanito Peniera without asking for proof of identity, relying merely
on assurances and his belief that the person before him was a "wise man." 14 It was shown
during the hearing on November 12, 2007 that the document was a forgery. The transcript of
stenographic notes of what transpired during the hearing on November 12, 2007 15shows:
COMM. PANTALEON:

Right now, what is your evidence to show that this person did not personally appear before
the respondent?

MR. GEMINA:

Can I talk, your Honor?

COMM. PANTALEON:

What is your name?

MR. GEMINA:

I am Candido Gemina, Jr., husband of the complainant. The signature of Juanito Peniera was
a forgery. In fact, we also filed a case against Francisco Eugenio and he was sentenced to jail
on that matter.

COMM. PANTALEON:

On this document?

MR. GEMINA:

Yes, on that document.

COMM. PANTALEON:

Why do you say that the signature of Juanito Peniera in this case was forged?

MR. GEMINA:

He testified in court in Laoag City that he did not sign.

COMM. PANTALEON:

Juanito Peniera testified in court?

MR. GEMINA:

Yes, sir.

The IBP resolution, based wholly on Commissioner Maalas Report and Recommendation,
totally missed and disregarded the submitted evidence and the respondents testimony
during the hearing of the complaint. The IBP apparently had treated the respondent with
exceptional leniency. In our view, the respondents age and sickness cannot be cited as
reasons to disregard the serious lapses he committed in the performance of his duties as a
lawyer and as a notary public. The inaccuracies in his Notarial Register entries and his failure
to enter the documents that he admittedly notarized constitute dereliction of duty as a
notary public. He cannot escape liability by putting the blame on his secretary. The lawyer
himself, not merely his secretary, should be held accountable for these misdeeds. 16

A notary public is empowered to perform a variety of notarial acts, most common of which
are the acknowledgement and affirmation of documents or instruments. In the performance
of these notarial acts, the notary public must be mindful of the significance of the notarial
seal affixed on documents. The notarial seal converts a document from a private to a public
instrument, after which it may be presented as evidence without need for proof of its
genuineness and due execution. Thus, notarization should not be treated as an empty,
meaningless or routinary act. A notary public exercises duties calling for carefulness and
faithfulness. Notaries must inform themselves of the facts they certify to; most importantly,
they should not take part or allow themselves to be part of illegal transactions. 17

Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires every lawyer to uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for the law and legal processes.
The Notarial Law and the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, moreover, require a duly
commissioned notary public to make the proper entries in his Notarial Register and to refrain
from committing any dereliction or any act which may serve as cause for the revocation of
his commission or the imposition of administrative sanctions. 18

Under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, the respondents failure to make the proper entry
or entries in his Notarial Register of his notarial acts, his failure to require the presence of a
principal at the time of the notarial acts, and his failure to identify a principal on the basis of
personal knowledge by competent evidence are grounds for the revocation of a lawyers
commission as a notary public.19

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Isidro S. Madamba GUILTY of violating the
Notarial Law, the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional Responsibility,
and hereby orders the REVOCATION of his notarial commission, if still existing. He is further
SUSPENDED indefinitely from reappointment as a Notary Public. Considering the seriousness
of his violations, he deserves disbarment from the practice of law but taking into account his
old age and sickness, the Court, for humanitarian reasons, hereby orders his SUSPENSION
from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.1avvphi1

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and all courts
in the country for their information and guidance. Let also a copy of this decision be
appended to Atty. Isidro S. Madambas personal record as a member of the Bar.

SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 4369 November 28, 1997


PIKE P. ARRIETA, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. JOEL A. LLOSA, respondent.

RESOLUTION

ROMERO, J.:

Complainant Pike P. Arrieta prays for the disbarment of Atty. Joel A. Llosa for certifying under
oath a Deed of Absolute Sale.

Particularly, complainant avers that respondent notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale dated
March 24, 1993 1 making it appear that some of the vendors in said Deed namely, Edelina T.
Bonilla, Jesus T. Bonilla and Leonardo P. Toledano were parties and signatories thereto when
in truth and in fact, all three were already dead prior to the execution of the said Deed of
Absolute Sale. Jesus T. Bonilla died on August 22, 1992 2 while Leonardo P. Toledano died on
November 1, 1992. 3Edelina T. Bonilla allegedly died on or about June 11, 1992.

In answer, respondent admitted having notarized the Deed of Absolute Sale. But before
affixing his notarial seal, he first ascertained the authenticity of the signatures, verified the
identities of the signatories, and determined the voluntariness of its execution. Satisfied with
all of the above, it was only then that he certified the document.

Curiously, on September 9, 1996, complainant had a complete turn-around and moved for
the dismissal of his complaint. He alleged that the instant case is only a product of
misunderstanding and misinterpretation of some facts and is now convinced that everything
is in order.

The designated Investigating Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines


recommended the dismissal of the instant case. The Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines adopted the above recommendation and resolved to dismiss the
instant case after finding no compelling reason to continue with the disbarment proceedings.

This Court cannot agree.

Sec. 1 of Public Act No. 2103 provides:

(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an officer


duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgment 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, and acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed.
The certificate shall be made under his official seal, if he is by law required to
keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state.
It is thus clear from the foregoing that the party acknowledging must appear before the
notary public or any person authorized to take acknowledgment of instruments or
documents. 4 Aside from being required to appear before the Notary Public, it is similarly
incumbent upon the person acknowledging the instrument to declare before the same
Notary Public that the execution of the instrument was done by him of his own free will.

In the Acknowledgment of the Deed of Sale, respondent certified: "BEFORE ME, this 24th day
of March, 1993 at Dumaguete City, Philippines, personally appeared . . . Jesus Bonilla; . . .
Leonardo Toledano; . . . . " 5 Respondent claims that as a Notary Public, he asked the
signatories whether the signatures appearing above their respective names were theirs, and
whether they voluntarily executed the Deed of Absolute Sale. In order to ascertain their
identities, respondent asked for their respective residence certificates.

Except for Edelina T. Bonilla whose alleged death was not evidenced by a death certificate,
respondent certified in the acknowledgment that Jesus T. Bonilla and Leonardo P. Toledano
personally appeared before him. Respondent's acts require the presence of the vendors to
be able to verify the authenticity of their signatures, the identities of the signatories and the
voluntariness of the execution of the Deed. It defies imagination and belief how these could
have happened. It would have been impossible, both physically and legally, for Jesus T.
Bonilla and Leonardo P. Toledano to have personally subscribed and sworn before respondent
as to the authenticity and validity of the Deed of Sale as they had already passed on to the
Great Beyond prior to the execution of the said documents.

Yet, respondent certified to this effect. By affixing his notarial seal on the instrument, he
converted the Deed of Absolute Sale, from being a private document into a public document.
By certifying the Deed, respondent, in effect, proclaimed to the world (1) that all the parties
therein personally appeared before him; (2) that they are all personally known to him; (3)
that they were the same persons who executed the instruments; (4) that he inquired into the
voluntariness of execution of the instrument; and (5) they acknowledged personally before
him that they voluntarily and freely executed the same.

Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. On the contrary, it is invested with
substantial 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. 6 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. 7

As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, respondent is mandated to discharge his


sacred duties which are dictated by public policy and, as such, impressed with public
interest. Faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of an oath in an
acknowledgment or jurat is sacrosanct. 8

It is for the above reason that this Court is most concerned about the explanation given by
complainant for withdrawing his complaint against respondent. In his Motion to Dismiss
dated September 9, 1996, complainant declares:
xxx xxx xxx

That he is now fully convinced that everything was in order, and that nobody
was ever prejudiced by the acts of the respondent. Herein complainant has
realized that he himself, or any other legal practitioner, would have done
similarly as the respondent, if confronted with such an urgent voluntary
transaction in an emergency situation; . . . .

That respondent acted the way he did because he was confronted with an alleged urgent
situation is no excuse at all. As an individual, and even more so as a member of the legal
profession, he is required to obey the laws of the land AT ALL TIMES, to refrain from
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct AT ALL TIMES, to uphold the
integrity of his profession AT ALL TIMES, to promote respect to his profession AT ALL TIMES,
and to act with justice AT ALL TIMES.

It is dismaying to note how respondent so cavalierly disregarded the requirements and


solemnities of the Notarial Law simply to accommodate his clients. Not only did he commit
an illegal act but also did so without thinking of the possible damage or prejudice that might
result from non-observance of the same.

As a lawyer, respondent breached his professional responsibility by certifying under oath an


instrument fully knowing that some of the signatories thereto were long dead. This Court
cannot countenance this practice, especially coming, as it does, from respondent who
formerly served as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Negros Oriental
Chapter, President of the Dumaguete Lions Club and City Councilor of Dumaguete. If indeed
respondent had taken steps to verify the identities of the signatories, he would have easily
known that the signatures were fake as they purported to be those of his former clients.

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, and continue to possess, the qualifications
required by law for the conferment of such privilege.9 [M]embership in the bar is a privilege
burdened with conditions. There being no lifetime guaranty, a lawyer has the privilege and
right to practice law only during good behavior and can be deprived of it for misconduct
ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been
afforded him. 10

Pursuant to the foregoing, it is primarily required of lawyers to obey the Constitution and
laws of the land. 11 They must refrain from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct. 12

An attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath or of his duties as
an attorney and counsellor, 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. 13

Respondent's act of certifying under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the
vendors were already dead, they being his former clients, constitutes misconduct. But this
being his first administrative offense, such should no warrant the supreme penalty of
disbarment.

ACCORDINGLY, this Court finds respondent Atty. Joel A. Llosa guilty of misconduct.
Consequently, he is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months effective
immediately, with a warning that another infraction would be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all the courts of the land as well as the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and recorded in the personal files of
respondent himself.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 157434 September 19, 2006

SPOUSES CLARO and NIDA BAUTISTA, petitioners,


vs.
BERLINDA F. SILVA, Represented by HERMES J. DORADO, in his capacity as
Attorney-In-Fact, respondent.

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

To establish his status as a buyer for value in good faith, a person dealing with land
registered in the name of and occupied by the seller need only show that he relied on the
face of the seller's certificate of title.1 But for a person dealing with land registered in the
name of and occupied by the seller whose capacity to sell is restricted, such as by Articles
1662 and 1733 of the Civil Code or Article 1244 of the Family Code, he must show that he
inquired into the latter's capacity to sell in order to establish himself as a buyer for value in
good faith.5 The extent of his inquiry depends on the proof of capacity of the seller. If the
proof of capacity consists of a special power of attorney duly notarized, mere inspection of
the face of such public document already constitutes sufficient inquiry. If no such special
power of attorney is provided or there is one but there appear flaws in its notarial
acknowledgmentmere inspection of the document will not do; the buyer must show that
his investigation went beyond the document and into the circumstances of its execution.

Appealed by Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the
November 21, 2001 Decision6 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 487677 which
affirmed in toto the January 10, 1995 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Civil Case
No. 3091-V-89, and the February 27, 2003 CA Resolution which denied the motion for
reconsideration.

Civil Case No. 3091-V-89 is a Complaint for Annulment of Deed of Absolute Sale and Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. V-2765, Reconveyance and Damages filed with the RTC, Branch
171, Valenzuela, Metro Manila by Berlina F. Silva (Berlina), through Hermes Dorado (Dorado)
as Attorney-in-Fact, against Spouses Claro and Nida Bautista (Spouses Bautista). Spouses
Bautista filed their Answer8 and a Third-Party Complaint against Berlina's husband, Pedro M.
Silva (Pedro).9 In an Order dated August 6, 1991, the RTC declared third-party defendant
Pedro in default for failure to file an answer to the Third-Party Complaint. 10

The undisputed facts of the case, as found by the RTC, are as follows:

1. That Transfer Certificate of Title No. B-37189 of the Registry of Deeds for xxx Metro
Manila District III over a parcel of land (Lot 42, Block 10, of the subdivision plan (LRC)
Psd-210217, Sheet 2, being a portion of Lot 903, Malinta Estate, LRC Record No.
5941) situated in xxx Barrio of Parada, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, containing an area
of 216 square meters, more or less, was registered in the names of Spouses Berlina F.
Silva and Pedro M. Silva on August 14, 1980;

2. That on March 3, 1988, Pedro M. Silva, for himself and as attorney-in-fact of his
wife Berlina F. Silva, thru a Special Power of Attorney purportedly executed on
November 18, 1987 by Berlina F. Silva in his favor, signed and executed a Deed of
Absolute Sale over the said parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
B-37189 in favor of defendants-spouses Claro Bautista and Nida Bautista; and

3. That as a consequence, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 37189 was cancelled and in
lieu thereof, Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-2765 of the Registry of Deeds for the
Valenzuela Branch was issued in the names of Spouses Claro Bautista and Nida
Bautista on March 4, 1988.11

Based on the evidence presented, the RTC also found that the signature appearing on the
Special Power of Attorney (SPA) as that of Berlina Silva is a forgery, and that consequently
the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Pedro in favor of Spouses Bautista is not authorized
by Berlina.12

The RTC rendered judgment on January 10, 1995, the decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 3, 1988 executed by Pedro M.
Silva, for himself and as attorney-in-fact of Berlina F. Silva, in favor of defendants-
spouses Claro Bautista and Nida Bautista over the parcel of land, described and
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. B-37189 Metro Manila District III, null and
void and the resulting Transfer Certificate of Title No. V-2765 of Valenzuela Registry in
the name of Spouses Claro Bautista and Nida Bautista cancelled and that Transfer
Certificate of Title No. B-37189 reinstated.

2. Ordering defendants to reconvey the property covered by the said Transfer


Certificate of Title No. V-2765 together with the improvements thereon to the
plaintiff.

3. Condemning the defendants to pay the plaintiff the sum of P5,000.00 in the
concept of reasonable attorney's fees and the costs of suit.

Defendants' counterclaim is dismissed.


Judgment on default is hereby entered in favor of the third-party plaintiffs Spouses
Claro Bautista and Nida Bautista against third-party defendants Pedro M. Silva,
condemning the third-party defendant Pedro Silva to indemnify/pay third-party
plaintiffs Spouses Claro Bautista and Nida Bautista the amount of Seventy Thousand
Pesos (P70,000.00) the contract price of the sale of the property, with interest at the
legal rate from the date of the execution of the said document on March 3, 1988 until
the amount is fully paid and for whatever amount that the thirdparty plaintiffs were
adjudged and paid to the plaintiff by reason of this decision and the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.13

Spouses Bautista filed an appeal with the CA which, in its November 21, 2001 Decision,
affirmed in toto the RTC decision;14 and, in a Resolution

dated February 27, 2003, denied the Motion for Reconsideration. 15

Hence, the herein petition filed by Spouses Bautista praying that the CA Decision and
Resolution be annulled and set aside on the following grounds:

I. Respondent as represented by Hermes Dorado in his capacity as attorney-in-fact


has no legal authority to file action against spouses petitioners.

II. The petitioners are considered as purchasers in good faith and for value having
relied upon a Special Power of Attorney which appears legal, valid and genuine on its
face.

III. Gratia argumenti that the special power of attorney is a forgery and the deed of
sale executed by the husband is null and void, the nullity [thereof] does not include
the one half share of the husband.16

The petition fails for lack of merit.

As to the first ground, petitioners argue that for lack of authority of Dorado to represent
respondent, the latter's Complaint failed to state a cause of action and should have been
dismissed.17

The argument holds no water.

True, there was no written authority for Dorado to represent respondent in the filing of her
Complaint. However, no written authorization of Dorado was needed because the Complaint
was actually filed by respondent, and not merely through Dorado as her attorney-in-fact. As
correctly observed by the CA, respondent herself signed the verification attached to the
Complaint.18 She stated therein that she is the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 3091-V-89 and that
she caused the preparation of the Complaint.19 Respondent also personally testified on the
facts alleged in her Complaint.20 In reality, respondent acted for and by herself, and not
through any representative, when she filed the Complaint. Therefore, respondent being the
real party in interest, by virtue of the then prevailing Articles 166 21 and 17322 of the Civil
Code, the Complaint she filed sufficiently stated a cause of action. The sufficiency of the
Complaint was not affected by the inclusion of Dorado as party representative for this was
an obvious error which, under Section 11 of Rule 3,23 is not a ground for dismissal, as it may
be corrected by the court, on its own initiative and at any stage of the action, by dropping
such party from the complaint.24

Anent the second ground, there is no merit to petitioners' claim that they are purchasers in
good faith.

That the SPA is a forgery is a finding of the RTC and the CA on a question of fact. 25 The same
is conclusive upon the Court, 26 especially as it is based on the expert opinion of the NBI
which constitutes more than clear, positive and convincing evidence that respondent did not
sign the SPA, and on the uncontroverted Certification of Dorado that respondent was in
Germany working as a nurse when the SPA was purportedly executed in 1987.

The SPA being a forgery, it did not vest in Pedro any authority to alienate the subject
property without the consent of respondent. Absent such marital consent, the deed of sale
was a nullity.27

But then petitioners disclaim any participation in the forgery of the SPA or in the
unauthorized sale of the subject property. They are adamant that even with their knowledge
that respondent was in Germany at the time of the sale, they acted in good faith when they
bought the subject property from Pedro alone because the latter was equipped with a SPA
which contains a notarial acknowledgment that the same is valid and authentic. 28 They
invoke the status of buyers in good faith whose registered title in the property is already
indefeasible and against which the remedy of reconveyance is no longer available. 29 In the
alternative, petitioners offer that should respondent be declared entitled to reconveyance,
let it affect her portion only but not that of Pedro.30

Whether or not petitioners are buyers for value in good faith is a question of fact not
cognizable by us in a petition for review.31 We resolve only questions of law; we do not try
facts nor examine testimonial or documentary evidence on record. We leave these to the
trial and appellate courts to whose findings and conclusions we accord great weight and
respect, especially when their findings concur.32 We may have at times reversed their
findings and conclusions but we resort to this only under exceptional circumstances as when
it is shown that said courts failed to take into account certain relevant facts which, if
properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. 33 No such exceptional circumstance
obtains in the present case for we find the conclusions of the RTC and CA supported by the
established facts and applicable law. However, we do not fully subscribe to some of their
views on why petitioners cannot be considered in good faith, as we will discuss below.

A holder of registered title may invoke the status of a buyer for value in good faith as a
defense against any action questioning his title.34 Such status, however, is never presumed
but must be proven by the person invoking it.35

A buyer for value in good faith is one who buys property of another, without notice that
some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays full and fair price for
the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of
some other persons in the property. He buys the property with the well-founded belief
that the person from whom he receives the thing had title to the property and
capacity to convey it.36

To prove good faith, a buyer of registered and titled land need only show that he relied on
the face of the title to the property. He need not prove that he made further inquiry for he is
not obliged to explore beyond the four corners of the title.37 Such degree of proof of good
faith, however, is sufficient only when the following conditions concur: first, the seller is the
registered owner of the land; 38 second, the latter is in possession thereof;39 and third, at the
time of the sale, the buyer was not aware of any claim or interest of some other person in
the property,40 or of any defect or restriction in the title of the seller or in his capacity to
convey title to the property.41

Absent one or two of the foregoing conditions, then the law itself puts the buyer on notice
and obliges the latter to exercise a higher degree of diligence by scrutinizing the certificate
of title and examining all factual circumstances in order to determine the seller's title and
capacity to transfer any interest in the property.42 Under such circumstance, it is no longer
sufficient for said buyer to merely show that he relied on the face of the title; he must now
also show that he exercised reasonable precaution by inquiring beyond the title. 43 Failure to
exercise such degree of precaution makes him a buyer in bad faith. 44

In the present case, petitioners were dealing with a seller (Pedro) who had title to and
possession of the land but, as indicated on the face of his title, whose capacity to sell was
restricted, in that the marital consent of respondent is required before he could convey the
property. To prove good faith then, petitioners must show that they inquired not only into the
title of Pedro but also into his capacity to sell.

According to petitioners, to determine Pedro's capacity to sell, they conducted the following
forms of inquiry: first, they inspected the photocopy of the SPA presented to them by
Pedro;45 second, they brought said copy to Atty. Lorenzo Lucero (the notary public who
prepared the deed of sale) and asked whether it was genuine; 46 and third, they inspected the
original copy of the SPA after they advanced payment of Php55,000.00 to
Pedro.47 Essentially, petitioners relied on the SPA, specifically on its notarial acknowledgment
which states that respondent appeared before the notary public and acknowledged having
executed the SPA in favor of Pedro.

The RTC and CA, however, found such inquiry superficial. They expected of petitioners an
investigation not only into the whereabouts of respondent at the time of the execution of the
SPA48 but also into the genuineness of the signature appearing on it. 49

We find such requirements of the RTC and CA too stringent that to adopt them would be to
throw commerce into madness where buyers run around to probe the circumstances
surrounding each piece of sales document while sellers scramble to produce evidence of its
good order. Remember that it is not just any scrap of paper that is under scrutiny but a SPA,
the execution and attestation of which a notary public has intervened.

To what extent, therefore, should an inquiry into a notarized special power of attorney go in
order for one to qualify as a buyer for value in good faith?
We agree with one author who said:

x x x To speak of "notice", as applied to the grantee, is to follow the language of the


Statue of Elizabeth. Its proviso protects the man who purchases "upon good
consideration and bona fide * * * not having at the time * * * any manner of
notice or knowledge." The term "notice", however, is really but an approach to the
test of good faith, and all modern legislation tends toward that point.

Thus, some present day statutes (outside of the Uniform Law) may speak of notice,
actual and constructive, and define both terms, but they should be "liberally
construed, so as to protect bona fide purchaser for value." They may require the
grantee to have "knowledge" of the debtor's intent, but save for technical purposes
of pleading, the term is read in the light of the rules we are studying. It comes always
to a question of the grantee's good faith as distinct from mere negligence. 50

There must, indeed, be more than negligence. There must be a conscious turning
away from the subject x x x. As put by the Supreme Court, the grantee must
take the consequences if he "chooses to remain ignorant of what the
necessities of the case require him to know." The search, therefore, is
described by the question, did the grantee make a choice between not
knowing and finding out the truth; or were the circumstances such that he
was not faced with that choice? (Emphasis ours)

This means that no automatic correlation exists between the state of forgery of a document
and the bad faith of the buyer who relies on it. A test has to be done whether the buyer had
a choice between knowing the forgery and finding it out, or he had no such choice at all.

When the document under scrutiny is a special power of attorney that is duly notarized, we
know it to be a public document where the notarial acknowledgment is prima facie evidence
of the fact of its due execution.51 A buyer presented with such a document would have no
choice between knowing and finding out whether a forger lurks beneath the signature on it.
The notarial acknowledgment has removed that choice from him and replaced it with a
presumption sanctioned by law that the affiant appeared before the notary public and
acknowledged that he executed the document, understood its import and signed it. In
reality, he is deprived of such choice not because he is incapable of knowing and finding out
but because, under our notarial system, he has been given the luxury of merely relying on
the presumption of regularity of a duly notarized SPA. And he cannot be faulted for that
because it is precisely that fiction of regularity which holds together commercial transactions
across borders and time.

In sum, all things being equal, a person dealing with a seller who has possession and title
to the property but whose capacity to sell is restricted, qualifies as a buyer in good faith if he
proves that he inquired into the title of the seller as well as into the latter's capacity to sell;
and that in his inquiry, he relied on the notarial acknowledgment found in the seller's duly
notarized special power of attorney. He need not prove anything more for it is already the
function of the notarial acknowledgment to establish the appearance of the parties to the
document, its due execution and authenticity.52
Note that we expressly made the foregoing rule applicable only under the operative words
"duly notarized" and "all things being equal." Thus, said rule should not apply when there is
an apparent flaw afflicting the notarial acknowledgment of the special power of attorney as
would cast doubt on the due execution and authenticity of the document; or when the buyer
has actual notice of circumstances outside the document that would render suspect its
genuineness.

In Domingo v. Reed,53 we found that the special power of attorney relied upon by the buyers
contained a defective notarial acknowledgment in that it stated there that only the agent-
wife signed the document before the notary public while the principal-husband did not. Such
flaw rendered the notarial acknowledgment of no effect and reduced the special power of
attorney into a private document. We declared the buyer who relied on the private special
power of attorney a buyer in bad faith.

In Lao v. Villones-Lao,54 and Estacio v. Jaranilla,55 we found that the buyers knew of
circumstances extrinsic to the special power of attorney which put in question the actual
execution of said document. In Domingo Lao, the buyer knew that the agent-wife was
estranged from the principal-husband but was living within the same city. In
the Estacio case, we found admissions by the buyers that they knew that at the time of the
purported execution of the special power of attorney, the alleged principal was not in the
Philippines. In both cases we held that the buyers were not in good faith, not because we
found any outward defect in the notarial acknowledgment of the special powers of attorney,
but because the latter had actual notice of facts that should have put them on deeper
inquiry into the capacity to sell of the seller.

In the present case, petitioners knew that Berlina was in Germany at the time they were
buying the property and the SPA relied upon by petitioners has a defective notarial
acknowledgment. The SPA was a mere photocopy56and we are not convinced that there ever
was an original copy of said SPA as it was only this photocopy that was testified to by
petitioner Nida Bautista and offered into evidence by her counsel. 57 We emphasize this fact
because it was actually this photocopy that was relied upon by petitioners before they
entered into the deed of sale with Pedro. As admitted to by petitioner Nida Bautista, upon
inspection of the photocopy of the SPA, they gave Pedro an advanced payment of
Php55,000.00; this signifies that, without further investigation on the SPA, petitioners had
agreed to buy the subject property from Pedro.

But then said photocopy of the SPA contains no notarial seal. A notarial seal is a mark, image
or impression on a document which would indicate that the notary public
has officially signed it.58 There being no notarial seal, the signature of the notary public on
the notarial certificate was therefore incomplete. The notarial certificate being deficient, it
was as if the notarial acknowledgment was unsigned. The photocopy of the SPA has no
notarial acknowledgment to speak of. It was a mere private document which petitioners
cannot foist as a banner of good faith.

All told, it was not sufficient evidence of good faith that petitioners merely relied on the
photocopy of the SPA as this turned out to be a mere private document. They should have
adduced more evidence that they looked beyond it. They did not. Instead, they took no
precautions at all. They verified with Atty. Lucero whether the SPA was authentic but then
the latter was not the notary public who prepared the document. Worse, they purposely
failed to inquire who was the notary public who prepared the SPA. Finally, petitioners
conducted the transaction in haste. It took them all but three days or from March 2 to 4,
1988 to enter into the deed of sale, notwithstanding the restriction on the capacity to sell of
Pedro.59 In no way then may petitioners qualify as buyers for value in good faith.

That said, we come to the third issue on whether petitioners may retain the portion of Pedro
Silva in the subject property. Certainly not. It is well-settled that the nullity of the sale of
conjugal property contracted by the husband without the marital consent of the wife affects
the entire property, not just the share of the wife.60 We see no reason to deviate from this
rule.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated November 21, 2001 and
Resolution dated February 27, 2003 of the Court of Appeal are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 5095 November 28, 2007

FATHER RANHILIO C. AQUINO, LINA M. GARAN, ESTRELLA C. LOZADA, POLICARPIO


L. MABBORANG, DEXTER R. MUNAR, MONICO U. TENEDRO, ANDY R. QUEBRAL,
NESTOR T. RIVERA, EDUARDO C. RICAMORA, ARTHUR G. IBAEZ, AURELIO C.
CALDEZ and DENU A. AGATEP, complainants,
vs.
ATTY. EDWIN PASCUA, respondent.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father Ranhilio C. Aquino,
then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial Academy, joined by Lina M. Garan and the
other above-named complainants, against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.

In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two documents
committed as follows:

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

(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one
Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as "Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series
of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.
Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel Beltran, Clerk of
Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of the above entries appear in
the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the last entry therein was Document No. 1200
executed on December 28, 1998; and that, therefore, he could not have notarized
Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998.

In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. Pascua admitted
having notarized the two documents on December 10, 1998, but they were not entered in
his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his legal secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose
affidavit was attached to his comment.

The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed by Atty. Pascua
with the Civil Service Commission. Impleaded as respondents therein were Lina M. Garan
and the other above-named complainants. They filed with this Court a "Motion to Join the
Complaint and Reply to Respondent's Comment." They maintain that Atty. Pascua's omission
was not due to inadvertence but a clear case of falsification. 1 On November 16, 1999, we
granted their motion.2

Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for investigation, report
and recommendation.

On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and Recommendation
partly reproduced as follows:

A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For this
reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply with the formalities
and the basic requirement in the performance of their duties (Realino v. Villamor, 87
SCRA 318).

Under the notarial law, "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, xxx xxx.
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" (Sec. 246, Article V, Title IV, Chapter II of the
Revised Administrative Code).

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 is a ground for revocation of
his commission (Sec. 249, Article VI).

In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents allegedly
notarized by Atty. Pascua were not recorded in his notarial register.

Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due to oversight of his
staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape liability. His failure to enter
into his notarial register the documents that he admittedly notarized is a dereliction
of duty on his part as a notary public and he is bound by the acts of his staf.

The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true.

The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he notarized on
December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. On the other hand, the two
affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on December 10, 1998 are Document Nos.
1213 and 1214, respectively, under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the
other complainants are, therefore, correct in maintaining that Atty. Pascua falsely
assigned fictitious numbers to the questioned affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty
on his part not only as a Notary Public, but also as a member of the Bar.

This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of inadvertence
by Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which is hardly credible since the
latter cannot be considered a disinterested witness or party.

Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. No. 1213)
was submitted only when Domingo's affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) was withdrawn in the
administrative case filed by Atty. Pascua against Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This
circumstance lends credence to the submission of herein complainants that Atty.
Pascua ante-dated another affidavit-complaint making it appear as notarized on
December 10, 1998 and entered as Document No. 1213. It may not be sheer
coincidence then that both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered
as 1213 and 1214.

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 (Maligsa v. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 409).

As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is mandated to


subscribe to the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated
by public policy and impressed with public interest.

A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any misconduct in


his professional or private capacity. The Court has invariably imposed a penalty
for notaries public who were found guilty of dishonesty or misconduct in the
performance of their duties.

In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was suspended from his
Commission as Notary Public for a period of one year for notarizing a document
without affiants appearing before him, and for notarizing the same instrument of
which he was one of the signatories. The Court held that respondent lawyer failed to
exercise due diligence in upholding his duties as a notary public.

In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who certified under oath a
Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were dead was suspended
from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with a warning that another
infraction would be dealt with more severely. In said case, the Court did not impose
the supreme penalty of disbarment, it being the respondent's first offense.

In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was disbarred from the
practice of law, after being found guilty of notarizing a fictitious or spurious
document. The Court considered the seriousness of the offense and his previous
misconduct for which he was suspended for six months from the practice of law.

It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a suspension from the
practice of law for a period of six (6) months may be considered enough penalty for
him as a lawyer. Considering that his offense is also a ground for revocation of
notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully recommended that the notarial


commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still existing, be REVOKED and that he be
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months." 3

After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the findings of facts and
conclusion of law by the Office of the Bar Confidant. We find Atty. Pascua guilty of
misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to register in his Notarial Register the
affidavit-complaints of Joseph B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.

"Misconduct" generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a


premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.4 The term, however, does not necessarily
imply corruption or criminal intent.5

The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer is addressed to
the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa,6 wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a
Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were already dead, this Court held
that such wrongful act "constitutes misconduct" and thus imposed upon him the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for six months, this being his first administrative
offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,7 we revoked the notarial commission of Atty.
Mario G. Ramos and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating the
Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he notarized.
In Mondejar v. Rubia,8 however, a lesser penalty of one month suspension from the practice
of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for making a false declaration in the document
she notarized.

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

WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct and is SUSPENDED


from the practice of law for three (3) months with a STERN WARNING that a
repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. His notarial
commission, if still existing, is ordered REVOKED.
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 5838 January 17, 2005

SPOUSES BENJAMIN SANTUYO AND EDITHA SANTUYO, complainants,


vs.
ATTY. EDWIN A. HIDALGO, respondent.

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

In a verified complaint-affidavit dated September 18, 2001, 1 spouses Benjamin Santuyo and
Editha Santuyo accused respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo of serious misconduct and
dishonesty for breach of his lawyers oath and the notarial law.

Complainants stated that sometime in December 1991, they purchased a parcel of land
covered by a deed of sale. The deed of sale was allegedly notarized by respondent lawyer
and was entered in his notarial register as Doc. No. 94 on Page No. 19 in Book No. III, Series
of 1991. Complainant spouses averred that about six years after the date of notarization,
they had a dispute with one Danilo German over the ownership of the land. The case
was estafa through falsification of a public document.

During the trial of the case, German presented in court an affidavit executed by respondent
denying the authenticity of his signature on the deed of sale. The spouses allegedly forged
his notarial signature on said deed.2

According to complainants, respondent overlooked the fact that the disputed deed of sale
contained all the legal formalities of a duly notarized document, including an impression of
respondents notarial dry seal. Not being persons who were learned in the technicalities
surrounding a notarial act, spouses contended that they could not have forged the signature
of herein respondent. They added that they had no access to his notarial seal and notarial
register, and could not have made any imprint of respondents seal or signature on the
subject deed of sale or elsewhere.3

In his answer4 to the complaint, respondent denied the allegations against him. He denied
having notarized any deed of sale covering the disputed property. According to respondent,
he once worked as a junior lawyer at Carpio General and Jacob Law Office where he was
asked to apply for a notarial commission. While he admitted that he notarized several
documents in that office, these, however, did not include the subject deed of sale. He
explained that, as a matter of office procedure, documents underwent scrutiny by the senior
lawyers and it was only when they gave their approval that notarization was done. He
claimed that, in some occasions, the secretaries in the law firm, by themselves, would affix
the dry seal of the junior associates on documents relating to cases handled by the law firm.
Respondent added that he normally required the parties to exhibit their community tax
certificates and made them personally acknowledge the documents before him as notary
public. He would have remembered complainants had they actually appeared before him.
While he admitted knowing complainant Editha Santuyo, he said he met the latters husband
and co-complainant only on November 5, 1997, or about six years from the time that he
purportedly notarized the deed of sale. Moreover, respondent stressed that an examination
of his alleged signature on the deed of sale revealed that it was forged; the strokes were
smooth and mild.l^vvphi1.net He suspected that a lady was responsible for forging his
signature.

To further refute the accusations against him, respondent stated that, at the time the subject
deed of sale was supposedly notarized, on December 27, 1991, he was on vacation. He
surmised that complainants must have gone to the law office and enticed one of the
secretaries, with the concurrence of the senior lawyers, to notarize the document. He
claimed he was a victim of a criminal scheme motivated by greed.

The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation. In a report5 it submitted to the Court, the IBP noted that the
alleged forged signature of respondent on the deed of sale was different from his signatures
in other documents he submitted during the investigation of the present case. 6 However, it
ruled that respondent was also negligent because he allowed the office secretaries to
perform his notarial functions, including the safekeeping of his notarial dry seal and notarial
register.7 It thus recommended:

WHEREFORE[,] in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that respondents


commission as notary public be revoked for two (2) years if he is commissioned as such; or
he should not be granted a commission as notary public for two (2) years upon receipt
hereof.8

After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, complainants did not categorically
state that they appeared before respondent to have the deed of sale notarized. Their
appearance before him could have bolstered this allegation that respondent signed the
document and that it was not a forgery as he claimed. The records show that complainants
themselves were not sure if respondent, indeed, signed the document; what they were sure
of was the fact that his signature appeared thereon. They had no personal knowledge as well
as to who actually affixed the signature of respondent on the deed.1awphi1.nt

Furthermore, complainants did not refute respondents contention that he only met
complainant Benjamin Santuyo six years after the alleged notarization of the deed of sale.
Respondents assertion was corroborated by one Mrs. Lyn Santy in an affidavit executed on
November 17, 20019 wherein she stated that complainant Editha Santuyo had to invite
respondent to her house on November 5, 1997 to meet her husband since the two had to be
introduced to each other. The meeting between complainant Benjamin Santuyo and
respondent was arranged after the latter insisted that Mr. Santuyo personally acknowledge a
deed of sale concerning another property that the spouses bought.

In finding respondent negligent in performing his notarial functions, the IBP reasoned out:

xxx xxx xxx.

Considering that the responsibility attached to a notary public is sensitive respondent should
have been more discreet and cautious in the execution of his duties as such and should not
have wholly entrusted everything to the secretaries; otherwise he should not have been
commissioned as notary public.
For having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the document for
notarization to the secretary there can be a possibility that even the respondents signature
which is the only one left for him to do can be done by the secretary or anybody for that
matter as had been the case herein.

As it is respondent had been negligent not only in the supposed notarization but foremost in
having allowed the office secretaries to make the necessary entries in his notarial registry
which was supposed to be done and kept by him alone; and should not have relied on
somebody else.10

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo is hereby found GUILTY of negligence in the
performance of his duties as notary public and is hereby SUSPENDED from his commission
as a notary public for a period of two years, if he is commissioned, or if he is not, he is
disqualified from an appointment as a notary public for a period of two years from finality of
this resolution, with a warning that a repetition of similar negligent acts would be dealt with
more severely.

SO ORDERED.