Realino sold his residential lot to Closa, but Closa initially paid partially. Closa promised to pay the balance by executing a promissory note. Realino did not sign the document.
Seller Realino said that he would sign the deed of sale only upon receipt of said amount; that, however, since buyer Closa had signed a promissory note to pay the said balance of P600.00 on the coming Monday and that since Realino would not be able to come on said day, Closa, being also a close friend, had prevailed upon the Atty Villamor to affix his signature on the acknowledgment part of the still unsigned document.
Seller Realino had promised that he would return to the Atty. Villamor the required notarial file copies; that the document, although still unsigned, reflected the intention of the contracting parties therein so that it was delivered to the Realino;
Closa prevailed in convincing Atty. Villamor and despite of the absence of complete consideration, Atty. Villamor notarized the document.
After few days, Realino sold the lot to another. Atty Villamor thought that there would be no damage to anyone by reason of the unsigned deed of sale already notarized by him, it having been rendered useless by another deed of sale executed by the seller Realino, he did not insist in retrieving the said notarized unsigned deed of sale. (Lesson: Never notarize an unsigned deed of sale)
Atty Villamor was then charged with malpractice as a notary public.
Defenses of Atty Villamor:
- He explained that the complaint against him was motivated by Realino’s personal vendetta against him as the prosecutor against his son. Realinomade several attempts to settle the case by offering money to the parents of the victim without success. Realino must have thought that Atty. Villamor was the obstacle to their proposal to settle the murder charge amicably with the aggrieved parties. These allegations were corroborated by Mrs. Salvacion Robin, mother of the victim.
- Realino was his close friend and this was one of the factors that made him agree to sign the acknowledgment of the unsigned document.
Realino’s response: He simply denied all allegations of Atty. Villamor.
Issue: What should be the consequence to Atty. Villamor for notarizing an unsigned deed of sale? Admonition, not disbarment.
The resolution of this administrative case hinges on the credibility of the complainant Realino and Respondent Atty. Villamor. Since it appears that Atty. Villamor’s actions of affixing his signature and his notarial seal on the unsigned document in question are characterized by good faith, and that Realino took advantage of the oversight of the Atty. Realino and the trust that the latter had reposed on one he thought to be his friend, Atty Villamor was reprimanded and admonished to be more careful hereafter. A repetition of a similar act will be dealt with more severely.
A notarial officer must demand that a document be signed in his presence. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face, and for this reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply with the elementary formalities in the performance of their duties.
In similar cases of omissions of notaries public who had acted in good faith, there is no reason to impose a heavier penalty on Atty. Villamor.