Former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta on Thursday asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the perjury charge filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged irregular transfer of some P5.5 million pork barrel allocation under his name when he was a member of the House of Representatives six years ago.
In filing his demurrer to evidence, Acosta, through lawyer Siegfried Fortun, said his objection was premised on the prosecution’s failure to establish the elements of the crime charged.
A demurrer is an exception taken by a party to the evidence offered by the opposite party on the allegation that such evidence is not sufficient in law to maintain the issue.
Acosta said there was insufficient evidence to prove that he had acted with evident partiality, bad faith or gross inexcusable neglect in releasing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation to its intended beneficiaries as approved by the Department of Budget and Management.
“There is no proof that the act of the accused caused undue injury to the government or any other party in light of evidence now admitted to the record that the funds released were used for the purposes for which they were intended and have been accounted for,” Acosta said.
He also said the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to establish that the PDAF funds gave unwanted benefits, advantage or preference to the beneficiary, the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative (BVPC), a private organization controlled by his family.
The release of such funds were properly approved by the DBM and were used to implement the purpose of the PDAF which is to aid regular government programs for public service and social reforms.
It said the prosecution’s evidence failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt and therefore, must not be entertained by the court.
The four-page information signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Acosta made it appear that the channeling of funds had been approved by the Sangguniang Bayan of Manolo Fortrich, a first-class municipality in Bukidnon headed by his mother, Socorro Acosta, as mayor. Socorro has also been charged with perjury before the Sandiganbayan. Cynthia D. Balana