Many thanks to G. for pointing out a major change now embodied in the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court in 2004 regulating notarial practice in the Philippines: a Philippine notary public is now required by law to demand “competent evidence of identity” from parties who may want certain documents, such as contracts of sale, to be acknowledged, or who may want to swear an oath to attest the truth of certain statements, like those contained in an affidavit.
So, what constitutes a “competent evidence of identity”? The Court defined it in Rule II, Section 12:
“SEC. 12. Competent Evidence of Identity. – The phrase “competent evidence of identity” refers to the identification of an individual based on:
“(a) at least one current identification document issued by an official agency bearing the photograph and signature of the individual [Emphasis mine - Ed.]; or
“(b) the oath or affirmation of one credible witness not privy to the instrument, document or transaction who is personally known to the notary public and who personally knows the individual, or of two credible witnesses neither of whom is privy to the instrument, document or transaction who each personally knows the individual and shows to the notary public documentary identification.”
So, according to Section 12(a), a Philippine notary public can no longer accept a cedula or a community tax certificate (CTC), the successor document to the residence certificate originally required by the Notarial Law as proof of identity, for the simple reason that it does not contain a photograph of the person to whom it is issued.
Moreover, it is common knowledge that a CTC may be easily obtained by anyone, without any supporting papers, thereby debasing its value as an identity document. One blogger knows it all too well.
So, what forms of photo-bearing identification will a Philippine notary public accept? Off the top of my head, here is a partial list:
- A driver’s license issued by the Land Transportation Office
- A passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
- An identification card issued by either the Government Service Insurance System or the Social Security System
- An identfication card issued by the Professional Regulation Commission
- A taxpayer’s identification card issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue
- A postal identification card issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation
Take note that what the rule requires is an ID issued by an “official agency” and not necessarily by a government agency. It is unfortunate, however, that the Court failed to promulgate a definition on what an “official agency” is, although I suspect that such an office will be interpreted as one belonging to the State.
What is the significance of notarization, or in other words, why is it such a big deal?
“Notarization converts a private document into a public document and renders the document admissible in court as evidence without need for further proof of its authenticity. A notarized document is entitled, by law, to full faith and credit upon its face. Notarization also vests upon the document the presumption of regularity unless it is impugned by strong, complete and conclusive proof [Citations omitted - Ed.].”
In her 1993 Ateneo Law Journal article “A Manual For Filipino Notaries”, Anna Leah T. Castañeda underscored the need to safeguard the notarial act, one that many Filipinos take for granted:
“The notarial act is a solemn one fraught with serious consequences. As a natural and logical effect, the commission of acts which flout the safeguards imposed by law on the notarial act is met with severe penalties for the notary. The safeguards are not empty ceremonies, for they are meant to guard against fraud and guarantee to the courts, to administrative agencies, and to the public at large that documents upon which the signature and seal of the notary appear may be relied upon.”
By demanding a more stringent personal identification standard, the Supreme Court has taken another step in reinforcing the credibility of notarization.