Notary public 'admitted' falsified affidavit in De Lima petitions – Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – After scrutinizing the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) by notary public Maria Cecile Tresvalles-Cabalo, Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr said the lawyer herself admitted violation of the rules on notarial practice.

Velasco made the statement at the continuation of the High Court's oral arguments on Senator Leila de Lima's petitions related to her arrest for drug charges on Tuesday, March 28.

Velasco pointed out that the notary public admitted that the senator's affidavits were already signed before they met.

Section 6 of the rules on notarial practice requires the individual to personally appear before the notary public and sign the document in the presence of the notary.

However, Cabalo's affidavit implies that such did not happen.

Solicitor General Jose Calida quoted from Cabalo's affidavit, which says: "I was informed that the petition was already signed and ready for notarization. I was then provided the petition by her staff."

"Because the jurat in the verification and certification against forum shopping was fabricated, the instant petition is considered unsigned pursuant to Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court. An unsigned pleading produces no legal effect," Calida said in his opening statement as he took the floor for the first time to argue for the respondents.

If only for that violation, Calida is calling on the SC to dismiss De Lima's petitions.

Calida had alleged that Cabalo never personally met De Lima on the day that the senator's affidavit was notarized on February 24 or the day she was arrested and detained at Camp Crame.

De Lima's camp had explained that Calida's evidence was the logbook of the custodial center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) where De Lima is detained. But the notarization happened at another place inside Crame – the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG.)

Velasco clarified Cabalo's affidavit and asked De Lima's lead counsel in the oral arguments, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, if the notary public put the impression of her seal when Cabalo and De Lima met.

"I am not aware," Hilbay responded.

Interpellation of Calida was ongoing as of posting time. (LISTEN: LIVE: Supreme Court oral arguments on De Lima vs Guerrero)

De Lima was arrested on February 24 upon the order of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero. (READ: De Lima seeks SC help to stop 'illegal' arrest)

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.