Handwriting expert opinion sought in ex-partylist solon's plunder case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2020 03:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2020 04:00 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan has allowed the request of a former partylist lawmaker facing plunder and graft charges, to have documents submitted to the court be examined by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory over alleged forgery of his signatures, it was learned Wednesday.

In a resolution dated Jan. 31, the court's 5th Division granted former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez' motion for additional examination.

Valdez's case stemmed from the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam unearthed during the previous administration. He allegedly pocketed P57 million.

The court ordered the Commission on Audit, through government prosecutors, to submit original copies of letters of endorsement, as well as memoranda of agreement, supposedly signed by Valdez.

Valdez was likewise ordered to submit samples of his signatures on public documents, also for handwriting examination.

“Due to the gravity of the accusations against the accused, we deem it best to have the foregoing documents examined by experts,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Manalac.

In his defense, Valdez claimed that documents were allegedly falsified and his signatures forged.

In the resolution, the anti-graft court cited a Supreme Court ruling in Marquez vs. Sandiganbayan, which stated that “It is hornbook rule that as a rule, forgery cannot be presumed and must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery.”

The anti-graft court ruled last year to deny the demurrers to evidence of Valdez and his co-accused, former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, as the cases before them were “replete with evidence that would warrant a conviction if not rebutted by the defense.”