Notarization impressed with public interest; Duties of a notary public

There is no doubt that respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Notarial Law when he failed to include a copy of the Deed of Sale in his Notarial Report and for failing to require the parties to the deed to exhibit their respective community tax certificates. Doubts were cast as to the existence and due execution of the subject deed, thus undermining the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process and diminishing public confidence in notarial documents since the subject deed was introduced as an annex to the Affidavit of Title/Right of Possession of Third Party Claimant relative to NLRC Case No. RAB-CAR-12-0672-00.

A notary public is empowered to perform a variety of notarial acts, most common of which are the acknowledgment and affirmation of a document or instrument. In the performance of such notarial acts, the notary public must be mindful of the significance of the notarial seal as affixed on a document. The notarial seal converts the document from private to public, 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. As early as Panganiban v. Borromeo, we held that notaries public must inform themselves of the facts which they intend to certify and to take no part in illegal transactions. They must guard against any illegal or immoral arrangements.

It cannot be overemphasized that notarization of documents is not an empty, meaningless or routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. It is through the act of notarization that a private document is converted into a public one, making it admissible in evidence without need of preliminary proof of authenticity and due execution. Indeed, a notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face, and for this reason, notaries public must observe utmost care in complying with the elementary formalities in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of this form of conveyance would be undermined. 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. Moreover, the Notarial Law and the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice require a duly commissioned notary public to make the proper entries in his Notarial Register and to refrain from committing any dereliction or act which constitutes good cause for the revocation of commission or imposition of administrative sanction. Unfortunately, respondent failed in both respects. (A.C. No. 5510; December 20, 2007)