'Irregular' notarization makes docs questionable: SC

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The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that irregularities in the notarization of public documents may put to question the genuineness and presumption of regularity of transactions, as it sternly warned a notary public who failed to register a deed of sale of real property he notarized which later became the subject of adverse claims.

In a 19-page decision written by Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan and recently posted online by the high court, the court’s First Division said regardless of the reason, the failure of the notary public to register the subject deed of sale “casts doubt on the authenticity” of a document signed by a notary public.

The case involved the title of over 171,900 square meters of agricultural land at Barrio Concordia, Alitagtag, Batangas sold by Francisco P. Madlangbayan who had been given a special power of attorney (SPA) by the lots’ eight registered owners from the de Joya, Castillo, and Cordero families.

The SPA granted to Madlangbayan was revoked by the owners after a conflict over the PHP17-million purchase price after Madlangbayan claimed PHP13.6 million in commissions. A demand for the return of the owners’ certificate of title in June 1996 went unheeded.

In response to a complaint filed on July 14, 1997, Madlangbayan claimed he had already sold the property for PHP10 million on April 8, 1996 before his authority was revoked. The buyers, Rolando and Maria Florita Dalida, said the payment was deposited in Madlangbayan’s account in the Rural Bank of Bauan. The Dalida couple then sold the property to another group led by Renato Go, who claimed that the deed of sale to them is valid.

The SC, in its ruling, reinstated the original ruling of the Batangas City Regional Trial Court Branch 84 and said because there is no valid transfer of the properties, the petitioners remained to be the owners adding that “buyers in a simulated sale acquired no right of ownership”.

The court noted that while the deed of sale dated April 8, 1996 stated that it was notarized by lawyer Henry Adasa, the same did not appear in his notarial registry -- a record of the notary public’s official acts for that year.

The court explained that documents recorded in a notary public’s notarial registry are considered public documents and a document which does not appear in the notarial records or without a copy of it “suggests that the document was not really notarized”.

The SC said without registration, a document or instrument signed by a notary public "cannot be treated as duly notarized”.

“It cannot be treated as a public document and as such is not entitled to the presumption of regularity,” the court said.

It added that irregular notarization reduces the "evidentiary value" of a document from public to a private document which requires "proof of its due execution and authenticity to be admissible as evidence.”

The court also sternly warned Adasa that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future "shall be dealt with more severely”.