Best evidence to prove forgery, death

In the case of Telmo v. Telmo (G.R. No. 190118, February 21, 2018), petitioners' attack the two deeds of donation on the ground of fraud and forgery. They insist that it was impossible for Felix (the donor) to sign the deeds of donation as he was already dead at the time of their execution. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court found that the petitioners failed to discharge their burden and failed to present enough evidence of the forgery enough to overcome the presumption of authenticity.Felix's death certificate would have been the best evidence to establish his date of death.[1] Petitioners have, however, averred that Felix's death is not registered with the Civil Registrar of Indang, Cavite; hence, there is no death certificate available.[2] This bare and self-serving allegation, however, is unsubstantiated. No certification from the Civil Registrar of Indang, Cavite was presented indicating that Felix's death is not among those found in its records.

In the absence of a death certificate, they could also have presented as evidence an authentic signature of Felix to be compared with the allegedly forged signature appearing in the deeds of donation. The best evidence of a forged signature in the instrument is the instrument itself reflecting the alleged forged signature. The fact of forgery can only be established by a comparison between the alleged forged signature and the authentic and genuine signature of the person whose signature is theorized upon to have been forged.[3]

[1] See Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 117740, October 30, 1998, 298 SCRA 322, 332.

[2] RTC records, p. 223.

[3] Heirs of the Late Felix M. Bucton v. Go, G.R. No. 188395, November 20, 2013, 710 SCRA 457, 465-466.