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Cable Star Inc vs Cable Boss (GR No 181058, January 28, 2008)

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SIGMA HOMEBUILDING G.R. No. 177898


CORPORATION,
Petitioner, Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
AZCUNA and
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ.

INTER-ALIA MANAGEMENT
CORPORATION, DEVELOPMENT
BANK OF RIZAL,
INTERCON FUND RESOURCES
CORPORATION,
HASTING REALTY and
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
and REGISTER OF DEEDS for
the PROVINCE of CAVITE,
Respondents. Promulgated:
August 13, 2008

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RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

Petitioner Sigma Homebuilding Corporation filed a complaint for annulment


of sale, cancellation of titles, reconveyance and damages[1] against respondents,
namely, Inter Alia Management Corporation (Inter-Alia), Intercon Fund Resources
Corporation (Intercon), Hasting Realty and Development Corporation
(Hasting),[2] Development Bank of Rizal (DBR)[3] and the Register of Deeds of the
Province of Cavite, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Trece Martires City,
Cavite, Branch 23.

Petitioner alleged that its real properties[4] in Tanza, Cavite were sold by its
assistant vice-president, Augusto S. Parcero, to Inter-Alia without its knowledge
and consent and without the requisite board resolution authorizing the same. Inter-
Alia, in turn, sold them to DBR. DBR then sold the same to Intercon which
conveyed them to Hasting.
Summonses were served on all respondents, except Inter-Alia as it no longer
held office at its given address.

For its part, Hasting filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the
complaint stated no cause of action, among others. It stated that the annotations in
petitioners cancelled TCTs (which were attached to the complaint) clearly showed
that Parcero was authorized to sell the lots to Inter-Alia. Also attached to the
complaint were the duly notarized deed of absolute sale (signed and executed by
Parcero, in representation of petitioner) and the acknowledged receipt of the total
consideration in the amount of P1,522,920.00. Hasting went on to allege that,
based on the complaint, petitioner might not even be a real party in interest to the
subsequent successive transfers of the properties to the different respondents. Thus,
it had no cause of action for annulment of sale.

In its comment/opposition to Hastings motion to dismiss, petitioner merely


insisted that it had a cause of action but did not controvert Hastings material
assertions.

Respondent Intercon filed an answer.[5] The other respondents, however,


were not able to file their respective responsive pleadings.
Subsequently, in an order dated July 3, 2002, the RTC dismissed the
complaint for failure to state a cause of action. It also ruled that the action for
reconveyance was not proper since the properties had already passed on to the
hands of innocent purchasers in good faith and for value. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration. It was denied.[6]

Petitioner appealed to the CA.[7] The appellate court affirmed the decision of
the court a quo.[8] The CA also denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.[9]

Petitioners petition for review on certiorari in this Court[10] was denied for
failure to show that the appellate court had committed any reversible error in the
assailed judgment.[11] Its motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.[12]

Thereafter, petitioner filed in the CA a petition for annulment of the order


dated July 3, 2002 of the RTC on the ground of lack of jurisdiction under Rule 47
of the Rules of Court.[13] It argued that the trial court overstepped its boundaries
when it dismissed the complaint not only against Hasting but also against the other
respondents despite the fact that it was only Hasting that moved for its dismissal.
The CA denied the petition outright.[14] It held that for an action for
annulment of judgment based on lack of jurisdiction to prosper, it was not
sufficient that respondent court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction; petitioner must show that said court absolutely lacked
jurisdiction or that it should not have taken cognizance of the case because the law
did not vest it with jurisdiction over the subject matter.

More importantly, the appellate court found that petitioner had already
availed of the remedy of ordinary appeal before the CA and this Court. Having
been unsuccessful in its appeal before the CA under Rule 41 and the Supreme
Court under Rule 45, petitioner could no longer avail of the petition for annulment
of judgment, especially since the issue relied upon in the petition could have been
properly raised in its appeal in the CA (as, in fact, it was so raised by petitioner and
passed upon by the appellate court in said appeal). The CA denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration.[15]

Undeterred, petitioner filed a petition for review on certiorari in this Court. It


was, however, denied on August 8, 2007 for late filing.[16] On November 26, 2007,
its motion for reconsideration was denied with finality. Thus, the August 8, 2007
resolution became final and executory on January 18, 2008. Entry of judgment was
made on April 25, 2008.

But petitioner stubbornly refuses to give up. In a letter-appeal dated June 30,
2008,[17] it implored this Court to take another hard look at the merits of its case.
Petitioner reiterated that it was effectively deprived of its right to due process when
the RTC dismissed the complaint against the other respondents. It also pleaded for
a liberal interpretation of the rules of procedure.
The letter-appeal is without merit.

The letter-appeal is actually in the nature of a second motion for


reconsideration which is a prohibited pleading under the Rules of Court.[18] Worse,
it was filed despite the fact that an entry of judgment had already been made. It
was obviously a ruse meant to evade the effects of the final and executory
resolutions of this Court.
Moreover, even if we were to grant petitioners letter-appeal based on its
alleged substantial compliance with the pertinent rules of procedure, the
substantive aspect of its arguments left much to be desired.

Petitioner cannot successfully argue that the dismissal of the complaint motu
proprio against the other respondents effectively deprived it of its right to due
process. It must be pointed out that petitioners complaint went to great lengths to
trace who the first buyer of its properties was (Inter-Alia) down to the current
owner thereof, which is Hasting.As title to the contested properties is now vested
in Hasting, there was really no need for petitioner to implead all the other
respondents for the successful prosecution of its action for annulment of sale
against Hasting. A perusal of the complaint reveals that all the other respondents
were not even real parties in interest[19] in this case, to begin with. The only real
parties in interest in this particular controversy were petitioner and Hasting for they
were the only ones who stood to be benefitted or injured, as the case may be, by
the judgment in the suit.

Furthermore, the CA was correct in holding that, as petitioner had already


availed of the remedy of appeal, it could no longer avail of a petition for annulment
of judgment. A petition for annulment of judgment is an extraordinary remedy and
is not to be granted indiscriminately by the Court. It is allowed only in exceptional
cases and cannot be used by a losing party to make a mockery of a duly
promulgated decision long final and executory.[20] The remedy may not be invoked
where the party has availed himself of the remedy of new trial, appeal, petition for
relief or other appropriate remedy and lost, or where he has failed to avail himself
of those remedies through his own fault or negligence.[21]

Litigation must end sometime. It is essential to an effective and efficient


administration of justice that, once a judgment becomes final, the winning party
should not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard
against any scheme calculated to bring about that undesirable result.[22] Thus, we
deem it fit to finally put an end to the present controversy.
WHEREFORE, the letter-appeal is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

Treble costs against petitioner.

No further pleadings shall be entertained in this case.

SO ORDERED.

DOLORES L. DELA CRUZ, A.C. No. 7781


MILAGROS L. PRINCIPE,
NARCISA L. FAUSTINO, Present:
JORGE V. LEGASPI, and
JUANITO V. LEGASPI, QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
Complainants, CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
- versus - BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:
ATTY. JOSE R. DIMAANO, JR.,
Respondent. September 12, 2008
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

In their complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Jose R. Dimaano,


Jr., Dolores L. Dela Cruz, Milagros L. Principe, Narcisa L. Faustino, Jorge V.
Legaspi, and Juanito V. Legaspi alleged that on July 16, 2004, respondent
notarized a document denominated as Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate with
Waiver of Rights purportedly executed by them and their sister, Zenaida V.L.
Navarro. Complainants further alleged that: (1) their signatures in this document
were forged; (2) they did not appear and acknowledge the document on July 16,
2004 before respondent, as notarizing officer; and (3) their purported community
tax certificates indicated in the document were not theirs.

According to complainants, respondent had made untruthful statements in


the acknowledgment portion of the notarized document when he made it appear,
among other things, that complainants personally came and appeared before him
and that they affixed their signatures on the document in his presence. In the
process, complainants added, respondent effectively enabled their sister, Navarro,
to assume full ownership of their deceased parents property in Tibagan, San
Miguel, Bulacan, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-303936 and sell
the same to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

In his answer, respondent admitted having a hand in the preparation of the


document in question, but admitted having indeed notarized it. He explained that
he notarized [the] document in good faith relying on the representation and
assurance of Zenaida Navarro that the signatures and the community tax
certificates appearing in the document were true and correct. Navarro would not,
according to respondent, lie to him having known, and being neighbors of, each
other for 30 years. Finally, respondent disclaimed liability for any damage or
injury considering that the falsified document had been revoked and canceled.

In his Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner of the


Office of the Commission on Bar Discipline, Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP), found the following as established: (1) the questioned document bore the
signatures and community tax certificates of, and purports to have been executed
by, complainants and Navarro; (2) respondent indeed notarized the questioned
document on July 16, 2004; (3) complainants did not appear and acknowledge the
document before respondent on July 16, 2004; (4) respondent notarized the
questioned document only on Navarros representation that the signatures appearing
and community tax certificates were true and correct; and (5) respondent did not
ascertain if the purported signatures of each of the complainants appearing in the
document belonged to them.
The Commission concluded that with respondents admission of
having notarized the document in question against the factual backdrop as thus
established, a clear case of falsification and violation of the Notarial Law had been
committed when he stated in the Acknowledgment that:
Before me, on this 16th day of July 16, 2004 at Manila, personally
came and appeared the above-named persons with their respective
Community Tax Certificates as follows:
xxxx

who are known to me to be the same persons who executed the


foregoing instrument and they acknowledge to me that the same is their
own free act and deed. x x x

For the stated infraction, the Commission recommended, conformably with


the Courts ruling in Gonzales v. Ramos,[1] that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for one (1) year; that his notarial commission, if still existing, be
revoked; and that he be disqualified for reappointment as notary public for two (2)
years. On September 28, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No.
XVIII-2007-147, adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the
Commission.

We agree with the recommendation of the Commission and the premises


holding it together. It bears reiterating that notaries public should refrain from
affixing their signature and notarial seal on a document unless the persons who
signed it are the same individuals who executed and personally appeared before the
notaries public to attest to the truth of what are stated therein, for under Section 1
of Public Act No. 2103 or the Notarial Law, an instrument or document shall be
considered authentic if the acknowledgment is made in accordance with the
following requirements:

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


an officer duly authorized by law of the country to take
acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act
is done. The notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment
shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or document
is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, 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.[2]

Without the appearance of the person who actually executed the document in
question, notaries public would be unable to verify the genuineness of the signature
of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the partys free act
or deed.[3] Furthermore, notaries public are required by the Notarial Law to certify
that the party to the instrument has acknowledged and presented before the notaries
public the proper residence certificate (or exemption from the residence certificate)
and to enter its number, place, and date of issue as part of certification.[4] Rule II,
Sec. 12 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice[5] now requires a party to the
instrument to present competent evidence of identity. Sec. 12 provides:
Sec. 12. Competent Evidence of Identity.The phrase competent evidence of
identity refers to the identification of an individual based on:

(a) at least one current identification document issued by an official agency


bearing the photograph and signature of the individual, such as but not limited to,
passport, drivers license, Professional Regulations Commission ID, National
Bureau of Investigation clearance, police clearance, postal ID, voters
ID, Barangay certification, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) e-card,
Social Security System (SSS) card, Philhealth card, senior citizen card, Overseas
Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ID, OFW ID, seamans book, alien
certificate of registration/immigrant certificate of registration, government office
ID, certificate from the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons
(NCWDP), Department of Social Welfare and Development certification [as
amended by A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC dated February 19, 2008]; or

(b) the oath or affirmation of one credible witness not privy to the
instrument, document or transaction who is personally known to the
notary public and who personally knows the individual, or of two
credible witnesses neither of whom is privy to the instrument, document
or transaction who each personally knows the individual and shows to
the notary public documentary identification.

One last note. Lawyers commissioned as notaries public are mandated to


discharge with fidelity the duties of their offices, such duties being dictated by
public policy and impressed with public interest. It must be remembered that
notarization is not a routinary, meaningless act, for notarization converts a private
document to a public instrument, making it admissible in evidence without the
necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due execution.[6] A notarized
document is by law entitled to full credit upon its face and it is for this reason that
notaries public must observe the basic requirements in notarizing documents.
Otherwise, the confidence of the public on notorized documents will be eroded.

WHEREFORE, for breach of the Notarial Law, the notarial commission of


respondent Atty. Jose R. Dimaano, Jr., if still existing, is REVOKED. He
is DISQUALIFIEDfrom being commissioned as notary public for a period of two
(2) years and SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year,
effective upon receipt of a copy of this Decision, with WARNING that a repetition
of the same negligent act shall be dealt with more severely.

Let all the courts, through the Office of the Court Administrator, as well as
the IBP and the Office of the Bar Confidant, be notified of this Decision and be it
entered into respondents personal record.

SO ORDERED.

CHARLES B. BAYLON, A.C. No. 6962


Complainant,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


- versus - PUNO, C.J.,
REYES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.

ATTY. JOSE A. ALMO, Promulgated:


Respondent.
June 25, 2008
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DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This case stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by the
complainant at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) charging the respondent
with fraud and deceit for notarizing a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) bearing the
forged signature of the complainant as the supposed principal thereof.

Complainant averred that Pacita Filio, Rodolfo Llantino, Jr. and his late
wife, Rosemarie Baylon, conspired in preparing an SPA[1] authorizing his wife to
mortgage his real property located in Signal Village, Taguig. He said that he was
out of the country when the SPA was executed on June 17, 1996, and also when it
was notarized by the respondent on June 26, 1996. To support his contention that
he was overseas on those dates, he presented (1) a certification [2] from the
Government of Singapore showing that he was vaccinated in the said country
on June 17, 1996; and (2) a certification[3] from the Philippine Bureau of
Immigration showing that he was out of the country from March 21,
1995 to January 28, 1997. To prove that his signature on the SPA was forged, the
complainant presented a report[4] from the National Bureau of Investigation stating
to the effect that the questioned signature on the SPA was not written by him.

The complainant likewise alleged that because of the SPA, his real property
was mortgaged to Lorna Express Credit Corporation and that it was subsequently
foreclosed due to the failure of his wife to settle her mortgage obligations.

In his answer, the respondent admitted notarizing the SPA, but he argued
that he initially refused to notarize it when the complainants wife first came to his
office on June 17, 1996, due to the absence of the supposed affiant thereof. He said
that he only notarized the SPA when the complainants wife came back to his office
on June 26, 1996, together with a person whom she introduced to him as Charles
Baylon. He further contended that he believed in good faith that the person
introduced to him was the complainant because said person presented to him a
Community Tax Certificate bearing the name Charles Baylon. To corroborate his
claims, the respondent attached the affidavit of his secretary, Leonilita de Silva.

The respondent likewise denied having taken part in any scheme to commit
fraud, deceit or falsehood.[5]
After due proceedings, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline
recommended to the IBP-Board of Governors that the respondent be strongly
admonished for notarizing the SPA; that his notarial commission be revoked; and
that the respondent be barred from being granted a notarial commission for one
year.[6]

In justifying its recommended sanctions, the IBP-Commission on Bar


Discipline stated that
In this instance, reasonable diligence should have compelled
herein respondent to ascertain the true identity of the person seeking his
legal services considering the nature of the document, i.e., giving a third
party authority to mortgage a real property owned by another. The only
saving grace on the part of respondent is that he relied on the fact that
the person being authorized under the SPA to act as agent and who
accompanied the impostor, is the wife of the principal mentioned
therein.[7]

On October 22, 2005, the IBP-Board of Governors issued Resolution No.


XVII-2005-109 which reads:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-
entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and,
finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record
and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents failure
to properly ascertain the true identity of the person seeking his legal
services considering the nature of the document, Atty. Jose A. Almo is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year and
Respondents notarial commission is Revoked and Disqualified (sic)
from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years.[8]

In our Resolution[9] dated February 1, 2006, we noted the said IBP


Resolution.

We agree with the finding of the IBP that the respondent had indeed been negligent
in the performance of his duties as a notary public in this case.
The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be
overemphasized. In Santiago v. Rafanan,[10] we explained,

. . . Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is


invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are
qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts
a private document into a public document thus making that document
admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A
notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its
face. Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must be
able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and
appended to a private instrument.

For this reason, notaries public should not take for granted the
solemn duties pertaining to their office. Slipshod methods in their
performance of the notarial act are never to be countenanced. They are
expected to exert utmost care in the performance of their duties, which
are dictated by public policy and are impressed with public interest.[11]

Mindful of his duties as a notary public and taking into account the nature of the
SPA which in this case authorized the complainants wife to mortgage the subject
real property, the respondent should have exercised utmost diligence in
ascertaining the true identity of the person who represented himself and was
represented to be the complainant.[12] He should not have relied on the Community
Tax Certificate presented by the said impostor in view of the ease with which
community tax certificates are obtained these days.[13]As a matter of fact,
recognizing the established unreliability of a community tax certificate in proving
the identity of a person who wishes to have his document notarized, we did not
include it in the list of competent evidence of identity that notaries public should
use in ascertaining the identity of persons appearing before them to have their
documents notarized.[14]

Moreover, considering that respondent admitted[15] in the IBP hearing on February


21, 2005 that he had already previously notarized some documents [16] for the
complainant, he should have compared the complainants signatures in those
documents with the impostors signature before he notarized the questioned SPA.
WHEREFORE, the notarial commission, if still extant, of respondent Atty.
Jose A. Almo is hereby REVOKED. He is likewise DISQUALIFIED to be
reappointed as Notary Public for a period of two years.

To enable us to determine the effectivity of the penalty imposed, the


respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to this
Court.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the courts all over the country. Let a copy of
this Decision likewise be attached to the personal records of the respondent.

SO ORDERED.
SERGIO G. AMORA, JR., G.R. No. 192280
Petitioner,
Present:
CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
- versus - PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,*
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA, and
SERENO, JJ.

Promulgated:
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
and ARNIELO S. OLANDRIA, January 25, 2011
Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:

Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of
the Rules of Court, seeking to annul and set aside the Resolutions dated April 29,
2010[1] and May 17, 2010,[2] respectively, of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) in SPA No. 10-046 (DC).
First, the undisputed facts.

On December 1, 2009, petitioner Sergio G. Amora, Jr. (Amora) filed his


Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Mayor of Candijay, Bohol. At that time,
Amora was the incumbent Mayor of Candijay and had been twice elected to the
post, in the years 2004 and 2007.

To oppose Amora, the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) fielded Trygve


L. Olaivar (Olaivar) for the mayoralty post. Respondent Arnielo S. Olandria
(Olandria) was one of the candidates for councilor of the NPC in the same
municipality.

On March 5, 2010, Olandria filed before the COMELEC a Petition for


Disqualification against Amora. Olandria alleged that Amoras COC was not
properly sworn contrary to the requirements of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC)
and the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. Olandria pointed out that, in executing his
COC, Amora merely presented his Community Tax Certificate (CTC) to the notary
public, Atty. Oriculo Granada (Atty. Granada), instead of presenting competent
evidence of his identity. Consequently, Amoras COC had no force and effect and
should be considered as not filed.

Amora traversed Olandrias allegations in his Answer cum Position


[3]
Paper. He countered that:

1. The Petition for Disqualification is actually a Petition to Deny Due Course


or cancel a certificate of candidacy. Effectively, the petition of Olandria is filed out
of time;

2. Olandrias claim does not constitute a proper ground for the cancellation of
the COC;

3. The COC is valid and effective because he (Amora) is personally


known to the notary public, Atty. Granada, before whom he took his oath in filing
the document;

4. Atty. Granada is, in fact, a close acquaintance since they have been
members of the League of Muncipal Mayors, Bohol Chapter, for several years; and

5. Ultimately, he (Amora) sufficiently complied with the requirement that


the COC be under oath.
As previously adverted to, the Second Division of the COMELEC granted
the petition and disqualified Amora from running for Mayor of Candijay, Bohol.

Posthaste, Amora filed a Motion for Reconsideration[4] before the


COMELEC en banc. Amora reiterated his previous arguments and emphasized the
asseverations of the notary public, Atty. Granada, in the latters affidavit,[5] to wit:

1. The COMELECs (Second Divisions) ruling is contrary to the objectives


and basic principles of election laws which uphold the primacy of the popular will;

2. Atty. Granada states that while he normally requires the affiant to show
competent evidence of identity, in Amoras case, however, he accepted Amoras
CTC since he personally knows him;

3. Apart from the fact that Amora and Atty. Granada were both
members of the League of Municipal Mayors, Bohol Chapter, the two consider
each other as distant relatives because Amoras mother is a Granada;

4. It is a matter of judicial notice that practically everybody


knows the Mayor, most especially lawyers and notaries public, who keep
themselves abreast of developments in local politics and have frequent dealings
with the local government; and

5. In all, the COC filed by Amora does not lack the required formality of an
oath, and thus, there is no reason to nullify his COC.

Meanwhile, on May 10, 2010, national and local elections were held. Amora
obtained 8,688 votes, equivalent to 58.94% of the total votes cast, compared to
Olaivars 6,053 votes, equivalent to only 41.06% thereof. Subsequently, the
Muncipal Board of Canvassers of Candijay, Bohol, proclaimed Amora as the
winner for the position of Municipal Mayor of Candijay, Bohol.[6]
A week thereafter, or on May 17, 2010, in another turn of events, the
COMELEC en banc denied Amoras motion for reconsideration and affirmed the
resolution of the COMELEC (Second Division). Notably, three (3) of the seven (7)
commissioners dissented from the majority ruling. Commissioner Gregorio
Larrazabal (Commissioner Larrazabal) wrote a dissenting opinion, which was
concurred in by then Chairman Jose A.R. Melo and Commissioner Rene V.
Sarmiento.

In denying Amoras motion for reconsideration and upholding Olandrias


petition for disqualification of Amora, the COMELEC ratiocinated, thus:

[Amora] himself admitted in his Motion that the Second Division was
correct in pointing out that the CTC is no longer a competent evidence of
identity for purposes of notarization.

The COC therefore is rendered invalid when [petitioner] only presented


his CTC to the notary public. His defense that he is personally known to
the notary cannot be given recognition because the best proof [of] his
contention could have been the COC itself. However, careful
examination of the jurat portion of the COC reveals no assertion by the
notary public that he personally knew the affiant, [petitioner] herein.
Belated production of an Affidavit by the Notary Public cannot be given
weight because such evidence could and should have been produced at
the earliest possible opportunity.

The rules are absolute. Section 73 of the Election Code states:

Section 73. Certificate of Candidacy. No person shall be


eligible for any elective public office unless he files
a sworn certificate of candidacy within the period fixed
herein.

Under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 (Rules), the


requirements of notarization of an oath are:

Section 2. Affirmation or Oath. The term Affirmation or


Oath refers to an act in which an individual on a single
occasion:

(a) appears in person before the notary public;

(b) is personally known to the notary public or


identified by the notary public through competent
evidence of identity as defined by these Rules; and
(c) avows under penalty of law to the whole truth of
the contents of the instrument or document.

The required form of identification is prescribed in [S]ection 12 of


the same Rules, to wit:

Section 12. Competent Evidence of Identity. The phrase


competent evidence of identity refers to the identification
of an individual based on:

(a) at least one current identification document issued


by an official agency bearing the photograph and
signature of the individual. x x x.

It is apparent that a CTC, which bears no photograph, is no longer


a valid form of identification for purposes of Notarization of Legal
Documents. No less than the Supreme Court itself, when it revoked the
Notarial Commission of a member of the Bar in Baylon v. Almo,
reiterated this when it said:

As a matter of fact, recognizing the established unreliability


of a community tax certificate in proving the identity of a
person who wishes to have his document notarized, we did
not include it in the list of competent evidence of identity
that notaries public should use in ascertaining the identity
of persons appearing before them to have their documents
notarized.

Seeking other remedies, [Amora] maintained that Section 78 of the


Election Code governs the Petition. Said section provides that:

Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a


certificate of candidacy. A verified petition seeking to
deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy
may be filed by the person exclusively on the ground
that any material representation contained therein as
required under Section 74 hereof is false. The petition
may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days
from the time of the filing of the certificate of
candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and
hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election.

[Amora] however failed to note that the Petition relies upon an entirely
different ground. The Petition has clearly stated that it was invoking
Section 73 of the Election Code, which prescribes the mandatory
requirement of filing a sworn certificate of candidacy. As properly
pointed out by [Olandria], he filed a Petition to Disqualify for Possessing
Some Grounds for Disqualification, which, is governed by COMELEC
Resolution No. 8696, to wit:

B. PETITION TO DISQUALIFY A
CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SECTION 68 OF THE
OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE AND PETITION TO
DISQUALIFY FOR LACK OF QUALIFICATIONS
OR POSSESSING SOME GROUNDS FOR
DISQUALIFICATION

1. A verified petition to disqualify a candidate


pursuant to Section 68 of the OEC and
the verified petition to disqualify a
candidate for lack of qualifications
or possessing some grounds for
disqualification may be filed on any day
after the last day for filing of certificates of
candidacy but not later than the date of
proclamation;

xxxx

3. The petition to disqualify a candidate for lack


of qualification or possessing some grounds
for disqualification, shall be filed in ten (10)
legible copies, personally or through a duly
authorized representative, by any person of
voting age, or duly registered political party,
organization or coalition of political parties on
the ground that the candidate does not possess
all the qualifications as provided for by the
Constitution or by existing law or who
possesses some grounds for disqualification as
provided for by the Constitution or by existing
law.

xxxx

Finally, we do not agree with [Amora] when he stated that the Second
Divisions Resolution practically supplanted congress by adding another
ground for disqualification, not provided in the omnibus election code or
the local government code. The constitution is very clear that it is
congress that shall prescribe the qualifications (and disqualifications) of
candidates for local government positions. These grounds for
disqualification were laid down in both laws mentioned by [Amora] and
COMELEC Resolution 8696.[7]

Hence, this petition for certiorari imputing grave abuse of discretion to the
COMELEC. On June 15, 2010, we issued a Status Quo Ante Order and directed
respondents to comment on the petition. As directed, Olandria and the COMELEC
filed their respective Comments[8] which uniformly opposed the petition.
Thereafter, Amora filed his Reply.[9]

Amora insists that the Petition for Disqualification filed by Olandria is


actually a Petition to Deny Due Course since the purported ground for
disqualification simply refers to the defective notarization of the COC. Amora is
adamant that Section 73 of the OEC pertains to the substantive qualifications of a
candidate or the lack thereof as grounds for disqualification, specifically, the
qualifications and disqualifications of elective local officials under the Local
Government Code (LGC) and the OEC. Thus, Olandrias petition was filed way
beyond the reglementary period of twenty-five (25) days from the date of the filing
of the disputed COC.

Moreover, Amora maintains that his COC is properly notarized and not
defective, and the presentation of his CTC to the notary public to whom he was
personally known sufficiently complied with the requirement that the COC be
under oath. Amora further alleges that: (1) Olaivar, his opponent in the mayoralty
post, and likewise a member of the NPC, is purportedly a fraternity brother and
close associate of Nicodemo T. Ferrer (Commissioner Ferrer), one of the
commissioners of the COMELEC who disqualified him; and (2) Olaivar served as
Consultant for the COMELEC, assigned to the Office of Commissioner Ferrer.

Olandria and the COMELEC reiterated the arguments contained in the


COMELEC en banc resolution of May 17, 2010.

Amoras petition is meritorious.

We find that the COMELEC ruling smacks of grave abuse of discretion, a


capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. Certiorari lies where a court or any tribunal, board, or officer
exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.[10]

In this case, it was grave abuse of discretion to uphold Olandrias claim that
an improperly sworn COC is equivalent to possession of a ground for
disqualification. Not by any stretch of the imagination can we infer this as an
additional ground for disqualification from the specific wording of the OEC in
Section 68, which reads:

SEC. 68. Disqualifications. Any candidate who, in an action or


protest in which he is party is declared by final decision of a competent
court guilty of, or found by the Commission of having: (a) given money
or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters
or public officials performing electoral functions; (b) committed acts of
terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election campaign an
amount in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received or
made any contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104;
or (e) violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86, and 261, paragraphs d, e,
k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6, shall be disqualified from continuing as a
candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the office. Any person
who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country shall
not be qualified to run for any elective office under this Code, unless
said person has waived his status as a permanent resident or immigrant
of a foreign country in accordance with the residence requirement
provided for in the elections laws.
and of Section 40 of the LGC, which provides:

SEC. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified


from running for any elective local position:

(a) Those sentenced by final judgment for an offense


involving moral turpitude or for an offense punishable by one (1) year or
more of imprisonment, within two (2) years after serving sentence;

(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative


case;

(c) Those convicted by final judgment for violating the oath


of allegiance to the Republic;

(d) Those with dual citizenship;

(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases


here or abroad;

(f) Permanent residents in a foreign country or those who


have acquired the right to reside abroad and continue to avail of
the same right after the effectivity of this Code; and

(g) The insane or feeble-minded.

It is quite obvious that the Olandria petition is not based on any of the grounds for
disqualification as enumerated in the foregoing statutory provisions. Nowhere
therein does it specify that a defective notarization is a ground for the
disqualification of a candidate. Yet, the COMELEC would uphold that petition
upon the outlandish claim that it is a petition to disqualify a candidate for lack of
qualifications or possessing some grounds for disqualification.

The proper characterization of a petition as one for disqualification under the


pertinent provisions of laws cannot be made dependent on the designation,
correctly or incorrectly, of a petitioner. The absurd interpretation of Olandria,
respondent herein, is not controlling; the COMELEC should have dismissed his
petition outright.

A petition for disqualification relates to the declaration of a candidate as ineligible


or lacking in quality or accomplishment fit for the position of mayor. The
distinction between a petition for disqualification and the formal requirement in
Section 73 of the OEC that a COC be under oath is not simply a question of
semantics as the statutes list the grounds for the disqualification of a candidate.

Recently, we have had occasion to distinguish the various petitions for


disqualification and clarify the grounds therefor as provided in the OEC and the
LGC. We declared, thus:
To emphasize, a petition for disqualification on the one hand, can
be premised on Section 12 or 68 of the OEC, or Section 40 of the LGC.
On the other hand, a petition to deny due course to or cancel a CoC can
only be grounded on a statement of a material representation in the said
certificate that is false. The petitions also have different effects. While a
person who is disqualified under Section 68 is merely prohibited to
continue as a candidate, the person whose certificate is cancelled or
denied due course under Section 78 is not treated as a candidate at all, as
if he/she never filed a CoC. Thus, in Miranda v. Abaya, this Court made
the distinction that a candidate who is disqualified under Section 68 can
validly be substituted under Section 77 of the OEC because he/she
remains a candidate until disqualified; but a person whose CoC has been
denied due course or cancelled under Section 78 cannot be substituted
because he/she is never considered a candidate.[11]

Apart from the qualifications provided for in the Constitution, the power to
prescribe additional qualifications for elective office and grounds for
disqualification therefrom, consistent with the constitutional provisions, is vested
in Congress.[12] However, laws prescribing qualifications for and disqualifications
from office are liberally construed in favor of eligibility since the privilege of
holding an office is a valuable one.[13] We cannot overemphasize the principle that
where a candidate has received popular mandate, all possible doubts should be
resolved in favor of the candidates eligibility, for to rule otherwise is to defeat the
will of the people.[14]
In stark contrast to the foregoing, the COMELEC allowed and confirmed the
disqualification of Amora although the latter won, and was forthwith proclaimed,
as Mayor of Candijay, Bohol.

Another red flag for the COMELEC to dismiss Olandrias petition is the fact
that Amora claims to personally know the notary public, Atty. Granada, before
whom his COC was sworn. In this regard, the dissenting opinion of Commissioner
Larrazabal aptly disposes of the core issue:

With all due respect to the well-written Ponencia, I respectfully voice my


dissent. The primary issue herein is whether it is proper to disqualify a
candidate who, in executing his Certificate of Candidacy (COC), merely
presented to the Notary Public his Community Tax Certificate.

The majority opinion strictly construed the 2004 Rules on


Notarial Practice (the 2004 Notarial Rules) when it provided that valid
and competent evidence of identification must be presented to render
Sergio G. Amora, Jr.s [petitioners] COC valid. The very wording of the
2004 Notarial Rules supports my view that the instant motion for
reconsideration ought to be granted, to wit:

Section 2. Affirmation or Oath . The term Affirmation or


Oath refers to an act in which an individual on a single
occasion:

(a) appears in person before the notary public;

(b) is personally known to the notary public or


identified by the notary public through competent evidence
of identity as defined by these Rules; and

(c) avows under penalty of law to the whole


truth of the contents of the instrument or document.

As quoted supra, competent evidence of identity is not required in


cases where the affiant is personally known to the Notary Public, which
is the case herein. The records reveal that [petitioner] submitted to this
Commission a sworn affidavit executed by Notary Public Oriculo A.
Granada (Granada), who notarized [petitioners] COC, affirming in his
affidavit that he personally knows [petitioner].

[Respondent], on the other hand, presented no evidence to


counter Granadas declarations. Hence, Granada[s] affidavit, which
narrates in detail his personal relation with [petitioner], should be
deemed sufficient.

The purpose of election laws is to give effect to, rather than


frustrate, the will of the voters. The people of Candijay, Bohol has
already exercised their right to suffrage on May 10, 2010 where
[petitioner] was one of the candidates for municipal mayor. To
disqualify [petitioner] at this late stage simply due to an overly strict
reading of the 2004 Notarial Rules will effectively deprive the people
who voted for him their rights to vote.

The Supreme Courts declaration in Petronila S. Rulloda v.


COMELEC et al. must not be taken lightly:

Technicalities and procedural niceties in election cases


should not be made to stand in the way of the true will of
the electorate. Laws governing election contests must be
liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in
the choice of public officials may not be defeated by mere
technical objections.

Election contests involve public interest, and technicalities


and procedural barriers must yield if they constitute an
obstacle to the determination of the true will of the
electorate in the choice of their elective officials. The Court
frowns upon any interpretation of the law that would hinder
in any way not only the free and intelligent casting of the
votes in an election but also the correct ascertainment of the
results.[15]

Our ruling herein does not do away with the formal requirement that a COC be
sworn. In fact, we emphasize that the filing of a COC is mandatory and must
comply with the requirements set forth by law.[16]
Section 2 of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice lists the act to which an
affirmation or oath refers:

Sec. 2. Affirmation or Oath. The term Affirmation or Oath refers to an


act in which an individual on a single occasion:

(a) appears in person before the notary public;

(b) is personally known to the notary public or identified by


the notary public through competent evidence of identity as
defined by these Rules; and

(c) avows under penalty of law to the whole truth of the


contents of the instrument or document.

In this case, however, contrary to the declarations of the COMELEC, Amora


complied with the requirement of a sworn COC. He readily explained that he and
Atty. Granada personally knew each other; they were not just colleagues at the
League of Municipal Mayors, Bohol Chapter, but they consider each other as
distant relatives. Thus, the alleged defect in the oath was not proven by Olandria
since the presentation of a CTC turned out to be sufficient in this instance. On the
whole, the COMELEC should not have brushed aside the affidavit of Atty.
Granada and remained inflexible in the face of Amoras victory and proclamation
as Mayor of Candijay, Bohol.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions of the Commission


on Elections in SPA No. 10-046 (DC) dated April 29, 2010 and May 17, 2010,
respectively, are ANULLED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.

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 principal4within 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
certificate6 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. 1w phi1

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.