Sandiganbayan rejects Sajid Ampatuan’s bid for signature analysis
MANILA, Philippines – The bid of Shariff Saydona Mustapha Mayor Sajid Ampatuan to have an expert examine his signatures in documentary evidence being used in his graft, malversation, and falsification charges has been turned down by the Sandiganbayan.
In his motions before the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division, Ampatuan alleged that his signatures in several vouchers, purchase orders, purchase requests, and other documents were visibly forged, thus needing an expert examination.
However, the court noted in its February 21 resolution that such measures would only delay the proceedings — thus being impartial to the state’s right to a speedy trial.
In these series of cases, Ampatuan has been tagged in an anomalous disbursement worth P16.31 million to a food supplier back when he was acting governor of Maguindanao. The company was supposedly non-existent according to the prosecution.
“Indeed, both the State and the accused are entitled to due process. However, such discretion must be exercised judiciously, bearing in mind the circumstances of each case, and the interests of substantial justice,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
“In this case, the Court finds that the contemplated examination if granted will serve no purpose but to delay the proceedings,” the court added.
Sandiganbayan also mentioned that the prosecution has never denied that the signatures could have been forged. They also noted that expert opinion, while helpful, has no binding effect on a court’s decision.
“The obvious purpose of the Motions is to prove that accused-movant’s purported signatures appearing on the questioned documents are forgeries, In SB-17- CRM-0762 to 0777, the prosecution does not deny that the signatures appearing on the documents identified by the accused as questionable are forgeries,” the court said.
“On the contrary, during the February 14, 2020 hearing, the prosecution pointed out that said fact had already been stipulated by the parties,” it added.
The anti-graft court also pointed out that Ampatuan did not specify who would conduct the examination, saying that the motions did not offer any relief had the court granted his request.
However, they also reminded Ampatuan that it is well within his discretion to apply such procedure, as the chief architect of his defense.
Ampatuan is facing a slew of charges in Sandiganbayan, including several counts of graft and malversation raps for a ghost purchase of construction materials worth P38.12 million, and for releasing P72.26 million to non-existent lumber companies in 2009.
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