MANILA - Document experts of the National Bureau of Investigation found some forgeries in the alleged documents implicating a political ally of President Aquino in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, it was learned yesterday.
In a four-page report dated March 31, 2014, the NBI reported that specimen signatures of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Joel Villanueva did not match with those in the custody of the Commission on Audit (COA).
“The questioned signatures on one hand and the standard/specimen signatures of one Emmanuel Joel Villanueva on the other hand, were not written by one and the same person,” the report, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, concluded.
The NBI report was signed by Carolyn Moldez Pitoy, chief of questioned documents, laboratory division and noted by Edward villarta, deputy director of the forensic laboratory division.
Lawyer Romulo Asis, head of NBI Anti-Graft Division, requested the handwriting examination.
No less than Aquino, who was Villanueva’s former colleague in the House of Representatives, raised doubts about the credibility of the evidence linking Villanueva to the pork barrel scam.
Villanueva is the former representative of the party-list group Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) and had served as congressman for nine years.
Prior to Aquino’s stint in the Senate in 2007, he was Tarlac congressman for nine years.
In particular, he cited the case of Villanueva who showed to him the evidence where the purported letter used did not carry the official letterhead of Cibac.
“Perhaps what is more important is: Is there any evidence? For instance – and this is not to prejudge the case – Secretary Villanueva showed me his alleged letter request which did not appear to be Cibac,” Aquino pointed out.
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who was also Villanueva’s former colleague in the House minority bloc, likewise vouched for the TESDA chief’s integrity. Hataman was representative of the party-list group Anak Mindanao.
“I cannot understand why they kept on linking him to the pork barrel case. We have known Joel to be a very upright person who cannot do such things. It is our hope that he will not be made a sacrificial lamb in this case,” Hataman said.
Aquino has defended Villanueva repeatedly, along with several of his political allies, saying they should all be accorded with the constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence until the courts find them guilty.