De Lima gossiper Salvador Belaro suspended from practicing law for being careless with notarial seal

The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended former 1-Edukasyon Party-list Rep. Salvador Belaro, Jr.—best known for his sexually-charged intriguing against Senator Leila de Lima—from practicing law for 6 months for being careless and allowing his notarial seal to be used on an anomalous extrajudicial settlement of estate.

In a recent 12-page decision, the SC 2nd Division declared Belaro guilty of violation of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional Responsibility. It also disqualified him from being commissioned as notary public for two years.

Belaro tried to shield himself from liability by invoking his position as congressman—a point that would become moot when his party-list failed to win its seat back during the May 2019 elections.

In any case, the SC said there was no law stopping the imposition of penalties against an erring lawyer who becomes inactive due to being elected to public office.

The sanction arose from the complaint of Venson Ang regarding the extrajudicial settlement Belaro allegedly notarized on March 26, 2014. The document claimed Ang personally appeared for notarization.

But, there were numerous anomalies in three versions of the document, such as the misspelling of the parties’ names, the inconsistency regarding the number of witnesses, and the claim that Ang’s sister was a signatory despite dying two years before.

The SC said the signature in the document was shown to be different from Belaro’s specimen signatures on file with the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC). But, this would not exculpate him from liability.

It pointed out that the documents bore Belaro’s notarial seal, which meant he did not properly secure it to prevent other people from using it without his authority.

“Had respondent Atty. Belaro been meticulous and cautious in the performance of his duties as Notary Public, he would have noticed from the start that he did not notarize the subject instruments and excluded the same from his Notarial Registry Book,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando.

“His negligence therefore not only caused damage to those directly affected by the notarized documents but also undermined the integrity of a notary public and degraded the function of notarization,” it added.

During the House of Representatives’ hearing on the alleged involvement of De Lima in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prisons, Belaro asked several lewd questions to Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s former driver and lover.

Making insinuations about the affair, Belaro said: “Malakas na pagmamahalan … Ganito na lang: 2007. Anong intensity ‘yun? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?” and “Palakas nang palakas hanggang intensity 5. Kailan kayo nag-climax? Intensity 5, anong year?”

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