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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | Notaryo publiko po ako

“AY STRIKTO MAN SI ATTORNEY, PERSONAL APPEARANCE TALAGA, NOTARYO LANG NAMAN YAN” are words that will irritate to no end any lawyer who is a Notary Public and who takes his duties as such seriously. “MAHAL MAN, SINKWENTA LANG MAN ANG NOTARYO SA DOWNTOWN” comes as a close second.

Rather than allow my blood pressure to boil over, I usually just respond by telling the irritating fellow to go elsewhere. I really don’t need the aggravation, I get enough of that from chasing deadlines.

Most people do not realize the value and importance of notarizing a document because the fact is that most people only have documents notarized as a part of government requirements for whatever transaction, clearance, application or whatever else they are trying to process. So, for them it is just a formality that needs doing, nothing more.

Have you ever wondered why these documents are required to be notarized or how important the performance of a notarial act by a notary public is?

Just to emphasize how serious the work of a notary public is, when I was a member of the National Board of Governors of the IBP, the penalty for ANY violation of the Rules of Notarial Practice, in Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) cases, was a suspension of anywhere from six (6) months to three (3) years from the practice of law and it could go all the way to meriting disbarment for the most serious cases like knowingly notarizing a document when one of the parties was already dead.

Why? The fact is that when a lawyer notarizes a document, he GUARANTEES to the entire world the following:

a. That the persons or parties who executed the document were personally present when he notarized the document which is why every acknowledgement states “BEFORE ME, A NOTARY
PUBLIC…………..PERSONALLY APPEARED……”;

b. That the parties whose names appear on the document are who they say they are which is what is meant by the phrase “KNOWN TO ME AND TO ME KNOWN TO BE THE SAME PERSONS WHO EXECUTED THE FOREGOING INSTRUMENT”;

c. That the notary public, particularly if the parties are not personally known to him, verified the identities of these parties thus the inclusion, for example, of “EXHIBITING TO ME HIS COMPETENT EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY, DRIVER’S LICENSE NO. _______, VALID UNTIL __________”; and

d. Most importantly, that the parties who executed the document understood the contents thereof and that they were not forced, induced, or otherwise pressured into signing it, which is the implication of the phrase “THEY ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE ME THAT THE SAME IS THEIR FREE AND VOLUNTARY ACT AND DEED”.

These are just the basics because there are many more technicalities involved and many types of acknowledgments and “oaths” or jurats that are applicable to different situations and different kinds of documents.

The bottom line is that when a notary public, normally a lawyer, signs and affixes his seal on a document, he is putting his NAME, REPUTATION and EVEN HIS LICENSE as a lawyer ON THE LINE. He is taking the very serious risk that, if anything goes wrong with any of the things he has guaranteed, he can lose his license to practice law.

It is this guarantee, this “SEAL OF AUTHENTICITY” on any notarized documents that is the main reason why the government requires so many documents to be notarized in order to be effectively used in government transactions.

The law puts such a high value on the notarial act that the Rules of Evidence, specifically Section 30 of Rule 132 provides “Proof of notarial documents. — Every instrument duly acknowledged or proved and certified as provided by law, may be presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of the execution of the instrument or document involved”
It is a sad state of affairs in our country that notarizing documents is simply taken for granted as a mere formality. People do not realize the gravity of it until they face criminal charges for falsification when a notarized document, they signed, turns out to include a false statement.

At the risk of sounding colonial, it has been my experience that it is so much more difficult to get a foreigner than a Filipino to sign a notarized document. Foreigners usually, and CORRECTLY, ask many questions before signing because, in their country, one can easily get into serious trouble by doing otherwise. Most Filipinos just do not seem to care when, in fact, THEY SHOULD.

So, then next time you feel like a lawyer is giving you a hard time by being strict in notarizing documents, be THANKFUL, because he is actually making sure that everything is above-board with your document and this is for your own good.

If, after all this, you still insist on going to the man on the street barking “NOTARYO!, NOTARYO KAYO DYAN!” go right ahead and do it. Just look for me when there is already a warrant for your arrest and I assure you, you will say “AY, MAHAL PALA!”

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