Handwriting on the wall: Ex-NBI document examiner says Revilla paid him P200,000
The handwriting expert presented in the Sandiganbayan on Thursday by the lawyers of Sen. Bong Revilla admitted that he was paid P200,000 to study pork barrel documents bearing the detained senator’s signatures.
Desiderio Pagui, a retired document examiner of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), testified that Revilla’s signatures on the documents were forgeries.
Under cross-examination by Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, Pagui admitted that he used photocopies of the documents pertaining to the alleged misuse of P450 million in pork barrel allotments of Revilla.
Pagui was the last witness to be presented by the defense in the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, which concluded four months of hearing Revilla’s petition for bail in a plunder case in which he is accused of pocketing more than P224.5 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotments.
Appearing calm and accompanied by his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, Revilla said he was confident that his lawyers had been able to demolish the government’s case against him and that he would be set free pending trial.
“I leave it up to the Lord. I’ve been praying to Him for the truth to come out,” Revilla told reporters.
“The prosecutors did not prove that I benefited from this scam. Even (primary whistle-blower) Benhur Luy failed to prove that he gave money to me,” the senator said.
After Pagui’s testimony, the court concluded hearings on the bail petition.
The prosecution, led by Joefferson Toribio, formally offered thousands of documents to back up the testimonies of Luy and eight other government witnesses.
The lawyers of Revilla and his former political aide, Richard Cambe, and alleged pork barrel racket mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles likewise submitted documents seeking to debunk the state’s accusation.
Answering Justiniano’s questions, Pagui said he used photocopies of documents pertaining to Revilla’s PDAF.
Justiniano, a seasoned litigator before joining the government service, pointed out that the NBI’s protocol in checking the authenticity of documents required that all documents to be examined were original copies and not mere reproduction.
Asked why he deviated from the NBI’s policy, Pagui said the photocopies of the documents were clear enough for him to conclude that Revilla’s signatures were forgeries.
Speaking with reporters, Revilla admitted that he paid Pagui but dismissed the prosecution’s suggestion that it was for a favorable testimony. “The payment represents the professional fee for his expertise. We did not pay him to lie,” Revilla maintained.
Natural for prosecution
Joel Bodegon, Revilla’s chief counsel, also played down the government prosecutor’s attempt to discredit Pagui, saying it was natural for the prosecution to cast doubt on the defense panel’s evidence.
“The important thing is that Pagui was able to determine that the alleged signatures of Senator Revilla [that] appeared in several documents were forgeries,” Bodegon said.
During the previous hearing, Justiniano objected to the presentation of numerous documents, which supposedly contained Revilla’s fake signatures for being immaterial to the plunder case filed against the senator.
Difference in signatures
In an interview with the Inquirer, Justiniano said Pagui’s findings were “unreliable” since he based his conclusion on reproductions of the documents pertaining to the disbursement of Revilla’s PDAF allotments.
“The signatures which appeared in photocopied documents are very different from those contained in original documents. As an expert, he should know that,” Justiniano said.
He also noted that Pagui could not determine what writing instrument Revilla used in signing documents with his genuine signatures and those used in the alleged bogus documents.
“Even the pressure of the signatures on the documents will not be determined if the documents are just photocopies,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.