SC suspends Negros lawyer for unrecorded notarization of allegedly fake land document

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The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended abogado Aaron Lizaran of Negros Occidental for one year in connection with defects in the notarizarion of an allegedly fabricated document pertaining to land.

In a recent 10-page decision, the SC 1st Division also revoked Lizaran’s notarial commission and disqualified him from reappointment as notary public for two years.

Lizaran was found guilty of Canons 1 and 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) and Section 2, Rule VI of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice.

In her complaint, Johaida Garina Roa-Buenafe alleged that a certain Serena Garaygay obtained a title over her property on the basis of an undated “conformity” purportedly signed by her brother Jose Roa and notarized by Lizaran.

Roa-Buenafe said the signature in the document was forged and the document did not exist in the records of the National Archives. Instead, the notarial details pertained to a 2002 certification by a policeman.

Lizaran denies forging Roa’s conformity and said he had known him since childhood. Lizaran claimed that Roa personally appeared before him to notarize the document and attested that the conformity affirmed the contents of a deed of absolute sale in favor of Garaygay which had gone missing.

As for the suspicious notarial details, Lizaran claimed that his secretary made the error in recording Roa’s conformity in his notarial book and asserted good faith.

The SC found enough basis to hold Lizaran liable for failing to properly record the conformity in his notarial book, inevitably causing doubts as to its authenticity.

“Such failure by respondent is inexcusable and constitutes gross negligence in carefully discharging his duties as a notary public,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo.

It added that Lizaran could not simply pin the blame on his secretary because he was the “one charged by law with the recording in his notarial register of the necessary information regarding documents or instruments he has notarized.”

Canon 9, Rule 9.01 of the CPR prohibits lawyers from delegating to unqualified persons tasks that may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing, the SC noted.

“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,” read the decision.

The SC added that Lizaran’s failure to properly perform his duty “unduly prejudiced complainant’s right over her property.”

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