The sign “NOTARY PUBLIC” can be seen in almost every street corner near the building of a local government agency, a government office, and even the courts. There are times that the name of a particular lawyer appears to be the same “Notary Public” who notarizes documents in different “notarial offices” in different parts of the city. Amazingly, the omnipresent Notary Public has separate Notarial Register in each of his “notarial offices”.
In the case of “Joy A. Gimeno vs. Atty. Paul Centillas Zaide” (A.C. No. 10303, 22 April 2015), a lawyer/notary public was suspended from the practice of law, his notarial commission revoked, and disqualified from being commissioned as a notary public for a period of two (2) years, for keeping different notarial registers in several offices. The Supreme Court, in penalizing the erring lawyer/notary public, ruled that:
“The Notarial Practice Rules strictly requires a notary public to maintain only one active notarial register and ensure that the entries in it are chronologically arranged. The ‘one active notarial register’ rule is in place to deter a notary public from assigning several notarial registers to different offices manned by assistants who perform notarial services on his behalf.
Since a notarial commission is personal to each lawyer, the notary public shall also personally administer the notarial acts that the law authorizes him to execute. This important duty is vested with public interest. Thus, no other person, other than the notary public, should perform it.
On the other hand, entries in a notarial register, need to be in chronological sequence in order to address and prevent the rampant practice of leaving blank spaces in the notarial register to allow the antedating of notarizations.”
The High Court also emphasized that a flagrant violation of the Notarial Practice Rules is not merely a simple and excusable negligence, but a clear violation of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.