MANILA, Philippines – Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) administrator Nereus Acosta has informed President Benigno S. Aquino III that he has started serving the 90-day preventive suspension imposed on him by the Sandiganbayan. This is in connection with pending graft charges over allegations of having misused pork barrel funds amounting to P10.5-M when he was congressman of Bukidnon.
The suspension order was issued Jan. 31, 2012 and was served on Acosta’s lawyers on Feb. 3, 2012.
“In the interest of the service, and in order not to further burden the Office of the President, I am voluntarily complying with and submitting myself to the said Order of the Honorable Sandiganbayan and consider myself preventively suspended for ninety days effective as of the close of business hours today,” the LLDA chief said in his letter dated Feb. 7, 2012.
He had earlier contested the prosecution’s motion seeking his suspension, claiming that as an appointee of the Chief Executive his position placed him outside the authority of the Sandiganbayan.
The graft court however overruled him and affirmed the prosecution’s position that the preventive suspension of a public official charged under RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is mandatory.
Acosta, who lost his senatorial bid in the 2010 elections under President Aquino’s political party, was indicted on 3 counts of graft for alleged fraudulent handling of public funds amounting to P10.5 million.
His mother former Manolo Fortich municipal mayor Socorro Acosta was named in 2 counts of graft while his aunt, Ma. Nemia Bornidor, was named co-defendant in a single graft charge.
Prosecutors said P5.5-M went to the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative (BVPC), a private cooperative, where former Mayor Acosta was a member and director while P2.5-M supposedly went to Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries (BINHI), Inc. was a board member.
The remaining P2.5 was reportedly used to buy a solar tunnel dryer that eventually ended up with the municipal government of Manolo Fortich.
In a separate pleading, prosecutors informed the Sandiganbayan that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has already approved the application of Bornidor to turn state witness against the Acostas in a nine-page resolution signed last January 17.
Deputy Special Prosecutor Cornelio L. Somido, acting directors Rabendranath Y. Uy and Ireneo M. Paldeng, and assistant special prosecutor Almira Abella-Orfanel said the Ombudsman has already ordered that Bornidor be discharged as a defendant and that she be used as witness for the graft cases against the LLDA chief and his mother.
In approving Bornidor’s offer, the Ombudsman said: “It is undeniable that the testimony of accused Bonidor will prove that accused J.R. Nereus Acosta acted with evident bad faith and manifest partiality when he caused the release of the total amount of P5,000,000 from his PDAF for the benefit of BINHI, Inc.,a corporation which is under his direct control and supervision.” – Rappler.com