Defense fumbles on Revilla’s signatures
MANILA, Philippines–Sen. Bong Revilla Jr.’s defense appeared to fumble on Thursday during his team’s presentation of a handwriting expert to show that whistle-blower Benhur Luy had forged the documents that resulted in congressional pork barrel funds being funneled to fake nongovernment organizations.
Even before Revilla’s lead counsel, Joel Bodegon, could start his direct examination of Desiderio Pagui, a retired chief document examiner of the National Bureau of Investigation, Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano quickly pounced on the inclusion of unrelated documents to the case.
Justiniano noted that nearly half of the letters to be examined by Pagui involved NGOs not owned by accused pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, which prompted Bodegon to withdraw the irrelevant documents.
Ombudsman prosecutor Jacinto de la Cruz adamantly pointed out the subtle differences between the original letters in the hands of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the photocopies Paqui was using to claim that Revilla’s signatures had been forged.
Bodegon, however, insisted on the authenticity of the documents—letters addressed to Gondolina Amata of the National Livelihood and Development Corp., Antonio Ortiz of the Technological Resources Corp., and Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture—claiming they were all obtained from the COA itself.
During cross-examination, Justiniano questioned why it took Pagui only one hour using a magnifying glass to conclude that Revilla’s signatures on the original and the copies “corresponded to the original” when it took him (Justiniano) three months to come up with his findings last year.
Pagui responded by saying that he only wanted to expedite Revilla’s bail hearing.
Justiniano also questioned why, in the case of Revilla, Pagui broke NBI protocol and did not get another expert to validate his findings. Justiniano pointed out—and Pagui confirmed—that it took two to four other experts before a report could be considered final.
Justiniano noted that the subject letters were mostly liquidation reports that the prosecution and Luy had already admitted contained forged signatures.
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