My father mortgaged our lot in Ilocos Sur to our neighbor sometime in 1976. In 1978, my father tried to pay his debt to him. The later, however, refused to accept the payment. Later on, it was discovered by my father that the lot was already in the name of our neighbor, and the original of the certificate of title in the name of my father was canceled because of a Deed of Absolute Sale, which was allegedly executed by my father and by our neighbor.
My father filed before the court a complaint for nullification of the Deed of Absolute Sale and transfer certificate of title in the name of our neighbor alleging that his signature appearing on the Deed of Absolute Sale was forged. Can we present a handwriting expert to prove forgery?
A testimony of a handwriting expert may help to support your father’s claim that his signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale was forged, but the testimony is not conclusive. The testimony of a handwriting expert must be supported by other pieces of evidence such as the testimony of the witnesses to the execution of the deed or any person/s who can testify to the alleged forging of signature in the Deed of Absolute Sale. Falsification by private individuals and use of falsified documents are punishable under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. There are two punishable acts under the provision: 1.) “Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document; and 2.) Any person who, to the damage of a third party, or with the intent to cause such damage, shall in any private document commit any of the acts of falsification enumerated in the preceding article.”
The Supreme Court said in Mendez vs. CA (G.R. No. 174937, January 13, 2012), that “forgery is not presumed but must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence by the party alleging it. It is established by comparing the alleged forged signature with the genuine signatures. Considering the technical nature of the procedure in examining forged documents, handwriting experts are often offered as expert witnesses. But although their testimonies are useful, resort to these experts is not mandatory or indispensable because a finding of forgery does not depend entirely on their testimonies. Judges must also exercise independent judgment in determining the authenticity or genuineness of the signatures in question, and not rely merely on the testimonies of handwriting experts.”
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org