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Cecilia D. Mendoza vs. Atty. Cesar R. Santiago, Jr.

Cecilia D. Mendoza vs. Atty. Cesar R. Santiago, Jr., A.C. No. 13548, reminds notaries public that the act of notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routinary act. A notarial document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. A notary public must observe the basic requirements in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the document would be undermined.

The complainant, Celia D. Mendoza, claims she is one of the heirs of Adela Espiritu-Barlaan, who died intestate on September 4, 2020. Adela Espiritu-Barlaan had no descendant or ascendant, but she did have siblings. She also left a parcel of land with an area of 247 square meters.

On October 25, 2013, Gemma S. Barlaan executed an Extrajudicial Settlement with Waiver and Transfer of Rights (EJS), adjudicating to themselves the subject property. The EJS was acknowledged before and notarized by the respondent, Atty. Cesar R. Santiago, in his notarial book.

A Transfer Certificate of Title was then issued in the name of John Alexander Barlaan. John Alexander Barlaan sold 147 square meters of the subject property to Monette Abac Ramos for P3,130,000.00 as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 26, 2014. On March 12, 2015, John Alexander Barlaan executed another Deed of Absolute Sale covering the same subject property in favor of Monette Abac Ramos for Pl,500,000.00. Both Deeds of Sale were acknowledged before and notarized by Atty. Cesar R. Santiago in his notarial book.

Monette Abac Ramos then filed a Complaint for Ejectment dated May 12, 2015 after discovering that the 147-square meter property was occupied by other relatives of Adela Espiritu-Barlaan. Attached to the Complaint was her Judicial Affidavit, showing her first deed of sale. She won the ejectment case, making the defendants vacate the property.

On June 23, 2017, Celia D. Mendoza filed the instant Complaint, claiming that his act of notarizing the two Deeds of Sale is a violation of 2004 Notarial Practice Rule and CPR.

Atty. Cesar R. Santiago then argued that: 

  1. Celia R. Santiago has no legal personality to sue him and that the issue of ownership of the property has already been resolved;
  2. He has already performed his duty as notary upon registration of the Second Deed of Sale with BIR and RD.

The IBP-CBD found the act of notarizing the First and Second Deeds of Sale violated the 2004 Notarial Practice Rule and CPR, especially as the act was done to minimize his client’s liability from paying taxes.

Thus, they recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year, and that his notarial commission be revoked for two years. The IBP Board of Governors recommended that Atty. Cesar R. Santiago should additionally be disqualified from being commissioned as a notary public for two years.

Thus, respondent Atty. Cesar R. Santiago, Jr is found GUILTY of violating the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and Canon VI of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability.

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