President Benigno Aquino 3rd need not testify at the plunder trial of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. over the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino has no personal knowledge of the alleged pork barrel scam.
“The requirement when you are a witness is that you have personal knowledge. So [what is our President’s personal knowledge about it]?” Lacierda told reporters in a news conference.
“Remember that what happened to Sen. Revilla dates back to 2007 to 2009. So what relevance does it have to the President],” he said.
In a 43-page pre-trial brief that he filed on Wednesday, Revilla listed Aquino as one of the witnesses he wanted to testify in his trial.
Lacierda said it will be interesting to know how the President and other members of the Cabinet could possibly prove Revilla’s defense that he did not personally gain from the pork barrel scam.
“How will their appearance or their testimony add any iota of defense or assistance to his claim that he did not profit [from the scam]?” he asked.
The Palace official could not answer, however, when asked on whether the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan can subpoena the President and make him testify in Revilla’s defense.
“It will be the first time [to have]a sitting President as a witness,” Lacierda said.
“We will defer to the Sandiganbayan’s view on that particular request for summoning President Aquino to the witness stand,” he added.
Besides Aquino, Revilla’s lawyers also want former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission of Audit chtef Grace Pulido-Tan to take the witness stand.
Revilla is facing plunder and 16 counts of graft at the anti-graft court for allegedly pocketing over P224 million in kickbacks from projects funded by his pork barrel.
He and Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who was also charged with plunder, are detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.