Notarization is not an empty, meaningless act

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@



The Manila Times


Dear PAO, I am a college student and work as a part-time secretary in a law firm. There are notarized documents that I do not record in the notarial book. I only copy the notarial details I already entered in other documents, like the document number, page number, etc. My boss is very busy, so pays no mind to this. He relies only on the ones recorded in the notarial book to check the number of documents he notarized. At the end of the week, I remit to him the total amount of notarial fees based on the recorded documents, but some of which I keep to myself. Is there a chance my boss would be prejudiced for what I did? Cronos Dear Cronos, Rule 9.91, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code) provides that “a lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the bar of good standing.” Interpreting this provision, the Supreme Court, in the case of Johaida Garina Roabuenafe v. Atty. Lirazan (AC 9361, March 20, 2019, Ponente: Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo) explained: “The act of notarization is impressed with public interest. A notary public is mandated to discharge with fidelity the duties of his office, such duties being dictated by public policy. Moreover, a lawyer commissioned as a notary public has a responsibility to faithfully observe the rules governing notarial practice, having taken a solemn oath under the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code) to obey the laws and to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any. “It is settled that notarization is not an empty, meaningless or routinary act, but rather an act invested with substantive public interest. Notarization converts a private document into a public document, making it admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, a notarized document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. It is for this reason that a notary public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of his notarial duties; otherwise, the public’s confidence in the integrity of a notarized document would be undermined. x x x “Respondent cannot simply impute the error to his secretary because he is the one charged by law with the recording in his notarial register of the necessary information regarding documents or instruments he has notarized ... Respondent cannot simply evade liability and invoke good faith. Failure to enter the notarial acts in one’s notarial register constitutes dereliction of a notary public’s duties, which warrants the revocation of a lawyer’s commission as a notary public.” Based on the foregoing, it is clear that when an issue arises consequent to your act, it is highly possible that your boss will be disciplined by the Supreme Court for failure to make proper entries in the documents he notarized, and to enter such details in his notarial book. He cannot attribute the error to you as his secretary to escape liability because such notarial function should be fulfilled by him, and not by somebody else. Thus, we advise you to stop that improper act because, aside from the revocation of your boss’ privilege to notarize, other penalties may also attach such as suspension from the practice of law. We encourage you to confide this matter to him so that proper remedies could be made. We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.