MANILA - Malacanang is baffled as to why Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. listed President Aquino and members of the Cabinet as possible witnesses in his defense before the Sandiganbayan.
“It will be interesting to know how the appearance of the President… I understand the other members of the Cabinet will prove his defense that he did not personally gain from the funds from the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund],” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda left the matter of compelling President Aquino’s attendance before the court.
“Be that as it may, again, it is very interesting to know that, since he is going to present them as his witnesses: How will the appearance or their testimony add any iota of defense or assistance to his claim that he did not profit? Obviously, this is a case of plunder against him so he has to prove that he did not personally gain from the PDAF scam… Seriously, it is just interesting to know how it will add to his defense,” he said.
Lacierda said he does not know if compelling a sitting president, such as being a hostile witness in a case, is legal.
Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, took the witness stand in her libel case against newspaperman Luis Beltran over an article where he alleged she hid under her bed at the height of a military coup.
“That’s the only time I recall where she sat as a complainant, but insofar as being a witness, I will have to defer to the legal team if that is possible,” Lacierda said.
He said it will be up to the Sandiganbayan to resolve this question.
Lacierda did not discount the possibility that Revilla’s trial may drag past Aquino’s incumbency.
“In the universe of possibilities, it will depend on the prosecution’s pace and also depends on… if there is an attempt on the other side to delay the proceedings,” he said.