A.C. No. 8384 - Efigenia M. Tenoso v. Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez
A.C. No. 8384 : April 11, 2013
EFIGENIA M. TENOSO Complainant, v. ATTY. ANSELMO S. ECHANEZ, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
Etigenia M. Tenoso (complainant) tiled a complaint against Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez (respondent) alleging that respondent was engaged in practice as a notary public in Cordon, lsabela, without having been properly commissioned by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Santiago City, Isabela. This is the RTC exercising jurisdiction over the Municipality of Cordon.
This alleged act violates Rule III of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice (A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC). To support her allegations, complainant attached the following documents to her pleadings:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
a. Two (2) documents signed and issued by RTC Santiago City Executive Judge Efren M. Cacatian bearing the names of commissioned notaries public within the territorial jurisdiction of the RTC of Santiago City for the years 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008.1 Respondent's name does not appear on either list;cralawlibrary
b. Copies of ten (10) documents that appear to have been notarized by respondent in the years 2006, 2007, and 2008; and
c. A copy of a certification issued by Judge Cacatian stating that a joint-affidavit notarized by respondent in 2008 could not be "authenticated as to respondent's seal and signature as NO Notarial Commission was issued upon him at the time of the document's notarization."2chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In his two-page Answer, respondent denied the allegations saying, "I have never been notarizing any document or pleadings"3 and added that he has "never committed any malpractice, nor deceit nor have violated thelawyers (sic) oath".4 He dismissed such allegations as being "preposterous, full of lies, politically motivated and x x x meant to harass or intimidate him".5chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Also, he surmised that the documents annexed to the Affidavit-Complaint were "tampered and adulterated," or that "somebody might have forged his signature."6 He failed to attend the mandatory conference and likewise failed to file his Position Paper.
In his Report and Recommendation dated 29 September 2008, Investigating Commissioner Atty. Salvador B. Hababag recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months and disqualified from being commissioned as a notary public for two (2) years for violating Rules 1.01 and 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.7chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In a Resolution dated 11 December 2008, the IBP Board of Governors affirmed the findings of the Investigating Commissioner but increased the penalty of suspension from six (6) months to one (1) year. Respondent did not file a Motion for Reconsideration or any other subsequent pleading.
On 12 August 2009, the IBP Board of Governors transmitted its Resolution to the Supreme Court for its action following Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.8chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The Court modifies the IBP Board of Governors' Resolution.
Complainant presented evidence supporting her allegation that respondent had notarized various documents in Cordon, Isabela from 2006 to 2008 and that respondent's name does not appear on the list of notaries public commissioned by the RTC of Santiago City, Isabela for the years 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008.
Respondent failed to present evidence to rebut complainant's allegations. Per Section 1, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court,9 the burden of proof is vested upon the party who alleges the truth of his claim or defense or any fact in issue. Thus, in Leave Division, Office of Administrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator v. Gutierrez,10 where a party resorts to bare denials and allegations and fails to submit evidence in support of his defense, the determination that he committed the violation is sustained. Respondent merely posited that the notarized documents presented by complainant were "tampered and adulterated" or were results of forgery, but he failed to present any proof.11 Respondent also resorted to a sweeping and unsupported statement that he never notarized any document. Accordingly, the reasonable conclusion is that respondent repeatedly notarized documents without the requisite notarial commission.
Time and again, this Court emphasizes that the practice of law is imbued with public interest and that "a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions of the State - the administration of justice - as an officer of the court."12 Accordingly, '"lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing."13chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Similarly, the duties of notaries public are dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest.14 "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."15chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In misrepresenting himself as a notary public, respondent exposed party-litigants, courts, other lawyers and the general public to the perils of ordinary documents posing as public instruments. As noted by the Investigating Commissioner, respondent committed acts of deceit and falsehood in open violation of the explicit pronouncements of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Evidently, respondent's conduct falls miserably short of the high standards of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing required from lawyers. It is proper that he be sanctioned.
WHEREFORE, We find Atty. Anselmo S. Echanez guilty of engaging in notarial practice without a notarial commission, and accordingly, We SUSPEND him from the practice of law for two (2) years and DISQUALIFY him from being commissioned as a notary public for two (2) years. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall merit a more severe sanction.
1 Rollo, p. 59ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
2 Id. at 59.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
3 Id. at 37.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
7 Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
8 Rule 139-B, Section 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors. -
x x x
b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.
9 Rule 131, Section 1. Burden of proof. Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
10 A.M. No. P-11-2951, February 15, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
11 Supra note 3.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
12 In the Muller of the lBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. MARC!AL A. EDILLON (IBP Administrative Case No. MDD-1), 174 Phil. 55, 62 ( 1978).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
13 Ventura v. Samson, A.C. No. 9608, November 27, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ
14 Dela Cruz v. Dimaano, A.C. No. 7781, September 12,2008, 565 SCRA 1, 7, citing Domingo v. Reed, G.R. NO. 157701, December 9, 2005, 477 SCRA 227, 238.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ