Contrary to what others may think, the crime of falsification is not limited to forgery.
In our Revised Penal Code, the felony of falsification could also be committed when a person engages in switching of documents.
The switching of a page or pages of a document that would make it appear that a person performed an act, when in truth that person did not perform such act, is criminal.
If the switched document would result in attributing to a person acts or statements other than those made by him in the genuine document, that would also constitute falsification.
For example, a genuine document shows a certain person signing as witness in a public document.
But the falsifier switches that document with another document where it now appears that another person, say Governor Macias, witnessed the execution of the document, instead of that other person, that is falsification of public document.
It is falsification because the falsifier made it appear that Governor Macias signed as witness to the execution of a document, when in truth, he did not.
Not only the actual falsifier is liable, but the one who used such falsified document is criminally responsible.
It would be worse if such falsification is used in judicial proceedings.
Unfortunately, this is what Mayor Agustin Perdices did.
This is what journalist Dindo Generoso discovered in the defamation suit filed by Mayor Agustin Perdices against him (Civil Case 2007-66), pending in the sala of city judge Antonio Estoconing.
Here is what happened.
Mayor Perdices filed an amended complaint against Mercedarius Dindo Generoso sometime in August 2007.
Perdices attached as his Annex “A” a purported two-page contract of services between then Governor George Arnaiz and Dindo Generoso.
The contract shows that the provincial government engaged the services of Dindo as tourism official for the six month period from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007.
However, the second page of the contract, which bore the signatures of the parties, the witnesses, and the notarization, was replaced by another document, completely alien to the contract.
As a result, the signature of Dindo was already different.
As a result, it appears that then Rep. Macias was a witness to the contract. The genuine did not show Macias as witness.
As a result of the falsification, it now appears that the contract was notarized in 2006.
In truth, the document was notarized in the year 2007.
As a result, the signature of Dindo on the second page (the fake page) is different from the signature he affixed on the first, genuine page.
Under oath, Mayor Perdices used such falsified document in his civil suit against Dindo.
Dindo and I just shook our heads.
Worse, during the pre-trial, the copy of the falsified public document was offered to Dindo for admission.
Knowing that the public document was falsified, since the second page was replaced with another alien (fake) page, Dindo of course refused to admit.
Dindo now is challenging Mr. Perdices, and his legal counsels to produce an original of such document, if at all such exists. (Good luck).
If unable to produce, Dindo is set to file criminal charges of falsification of public documents against Perdices and his lawyers.
The rule is that of a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it, the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification.
We don’t know how judge Estoconing will appreciate this brazen criminal act before his court. That is his call. It is his court that is being blatantly mocked.
That is not really our utmost concern.
Our concern is on matters of public policy.
Our worry is, since it is our dear Mayor Perdices who is using a falsified document---in a judicial proceeding at that---it makes us wonder.
Are there documents at city hall which are falsified also?
If ordinary citizens deal with city hall, how sure are we that falsified documents are not being used by Mayor Perdices?
How sure are we that Mayor Perdices does not use switched public documents in his dealings at city hall?
We thus deem it our civic duty as journalists to warn fellow citizens.
When you deal with city hall, or with Mayor Perdices for that matter, be wary.
Be on guard against document switching.
What a sad story to tell.
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