Ex-NBI examiner ‘succumbed’ to pressure–prosecution
Detained Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. paid P200,000 as professional fee of a handwriting expert—a defense witness—who used photocopied documents in examining supposed Revilla signatures on pork barrel disbursements to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).
The expert’s surprising turn tore Revilla’s defense apart, Undersecretary Jose Justiniano of the Department of Justice said on Thursday his cross-examination of Disiderio Pagui, a retired chief document examiner of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“P200,000,” Pagui responded when Justiniano asked him how much he was paid by Revilla’s camp for his professional fee as a handwriting expert.
Justiniano, who has been deployed to assist government prosecutors, then clarified that regardless of the professional fee, it was Pagui’s admission that he used photocopied documents in examining the authenticity of Revilla’s signatures that doomed the defense.
“He [Pagui] has been with the NBI from 1960 to the 1980s and he has used original copies in examining signature. Suddenly, he deviated and used photocopied documents this time. He said he failed to get the original copies because [they are]with the adverse party. But these are public documents. He could have easily got copies from the NGOs, as well as [from]the government agencies Nabcor, NLDC and TRC who would have the original copies,” he pointed out.
“He can’t even identify the writing instrument used in the signatures. If you used a fountain pen, it could smudge the signature. A handwriting expert should know what kind of pen is used in a signature,” Justiniano said.
His cross-examination also revealed that Pagui once signed a report during his NBI tenure even if he did not agree with contents of pertinent documents just to please his superiors.
“This [revelation]is bothersome because this shows that he can easily succumb to pressure,” Justiniano said.
But for Revilla, Pagui’s testimony that the senator’s signatures were forged would boost his case for innocence.
“Wala tayong kasalanan [I did not do anything wrong]. It is as good as paying the professional fee of a lawyer that you hired. You pay for the expertise, not to make him lie,” Revilla told reporters.
Prosecutor Emerita Francia argued that the handwriting expert’s testimony is doubtful at best.
“His findings are totally unreliable since what he used were mere photocopies bearing the [supposed Revilla]signature. Under the law, the court is not bound by the opinion of a handwriting expert, and the original document should be the basis for finding forgery. Thus, this cannot be considered,” Francia said.
Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon insisted that his client’s signature was forged for years and that Revilla only acted on it when he became aware of the forgery.
“Nobody brought this [forgery]to his attention. You only take action if you are alerted about what is happening,” Bodegon said.