SC Suspends Lawyer from Practice for Two Years; Permanently Bars Her From Being Commissioned as Notary Public

June 21, 2019

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc has suspended a lawyer for two years from the practice of law as well as permanently barred her from being commissioned as Notary Public effective upon her receipt of a copy of its decision for malpractice as a notary public and violating the Lawyer’s Oath as well as Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In an eight-page decision penned by Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the SC further directed that copies of its decision be furnished all the courts of the land through the Office of the Court Administrator, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar Confidant; and recorded in the personal files of Atty. Nelly E. Abao.

The Court found Atty. Abao to have notarized in 1995 a deed of absolute sale in Dao, Capiz despite knowing fully well that she was without a valid notarial commission as established by the Certification issued by Atty. Jelou F. Almalbis-Laguna, Clerk of Court VI of the Office of the Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, 6th Judicial Region, Roxas City, stating that Atty. Abao was never commissioned as notary public in the City of Roxas, Province of Capiz for the year 1995 and had no notarial files on record for the same year. It noted that under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice, a person commissioned as a notary public may perform notarial acts in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioning court for a period of two (2) years commencing the first day of January of the year in which the commissioning is made.  “Clearly, Atty. Abao could not perform notarial functions in Dao, Capiz, since she was not commissioned in the said places to perform such act in the year 1995.”

In addition, the Court found that Atty. Abao further committed a form of falsehood, which is undoubtedly “anathema” to the Lawyer’s Oath, for misrepresenting in the subject deed of absolute sale that she was a notary public for and in Dao, Capiz, when in fact she was not.

“By performing notarial acts without the necessary commission from the court, Atty. Abao violated not only her oath to obey the laws, particularly the Rules on Notarial Practice, but also Canons 1 and 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which proscribe all lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct and directs them to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession at all times,” the Court held.

(AC No. 12467, Spouses Frias v. Abao, April 10, 2019)