The Supreme Court (SC) has decided to allow the remote notarization of documents to help prevent the spread of the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Safeguarding the public’s health in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court will allow the notarization of documents through videoconferencing in cases where the notary public holds office in an area under community quarantine,” the SC Public Information Office (SCPIO) said in a statement on Friday.
The SCPIO said the high tribunal has issued instructions on this under Administrative Matters (AM) No. 20-07-04-SC, the 2020 Interim Rules on Remote Notarization of Paper Documents.
“Until the SC directs otherwise, the Rules shall apply to permit the performance of notarial acts through the use of videoconferencing facilities in cases where the notary public or at least one of the principals resides, holds office, or is otherwise situated in a locality that is under community quarantine due to COVID-19, as directed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF), the provincial governors or mayors, both governors and mayors having the concurrence of the relevant regional counterpart body of the IATF,” read the interim rules.
Under the rules, the notary public should not accept the notarial act requested “if the principal or witnesses refuse/s to appear before the notary public through videoconference.”
The rules also state that a notary public may “refused to perform the notarial act in the event that the principal or witnesses exhibit/s behavior that engenders reasonable doubt as to his or her or their understanding of the instrument or document or otherwise indicates a defect in his or her or their consent thereto.”
The SCPIO said the rules shall be “limited to the notarization of paper documents and instruments with handwritten signatures or marks through the use of videoconferencing facilities,” adding it “shall not apply to the execution of notarial wills.”
The SCPIO noted the rules will take effect 15 days following its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two newspapers of national circulation.
The SC also directed the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) “to create and disseminate to the general public a register of notaries public in all the chapters of the IBP who shall undertake the performance of notarial acts in accordance with these Rules.”
“This register shall indicate the names, contact numbers, e-mail addresses of the said notaries public, and the territorial jurisdiction of the court which issued their respective commissions,” and “published by the IBP in its website, and in any medium it may deem appropriate,” it added.