pork barrel

Acostas seek dismissal of graft case

Nereus Acosta. Photo from comelec.gov.ph

Former Bukidnon representative Nereus Acosta and his mother are asking the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the perjury charges that the Ombudsman filed against them in connection with Acosta’s allegedly irregular use of his pork barrel funds when he was still a member of the House of Representatives six years ago.

Acosta, who now heads the Laguna Lake Development Authority, and his mother, Socorro, the ex-mayor of Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon, told the antigraft court the charges filed last October no longer had a leg to stand on as the complainant had abandoned the case.

The Acostas said the complainant, Fr. Venancio Balansag, had already withdrawn the complaint and executed an affidavit of desistance.

Balansag’s complaint was the heart of the indictment against them but with his withdrawal, there was no way the prosecution could now establish the veracity of his previous allegations or prove the supporting documents during the presentation of evidence, they said.

“Without complainant Balansag, there will no person competent to testify for the prosecution to offer his testimony and identify the documents relating to this case,” the Acostas said.

According to the charge sheet signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the then Bukidnon congressman had on Sept. 4, 2006, illegally channeled P5.5 million from his priority development assistance fund, the congressional pork barrel, to the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative (BVPC), a private entity controlled by his family.

The Ombudsman alleged that Acosta made it appear that this funding program had been approved by the town council of Manolo Fortich, a first-class municipality in Bukidnon of which his mother, Socorro, was the mayor.

She said Acosta had executed a counter-affidafit stating that the Manolo Fortich municipal council had concurred in the transfer of the funds, “which was false, as the accused fully well knew that no such concurrence was given…”

Acosta’s mother was similarly charged with perjury for executing a counter-affidavit affirming that the funneling of her son’s pork barrel funds to the BVPC was concurred in by the town council.

The Ombudsman recommended bail of P6,000 each for the Acostas’ temporary liberty.

The mother and son still face charges of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials for the allegedly illegal transfer of the funds.

In their reply, the Acostas acknowledged that there was no such municipal council resolution but pointed out that they had never asserted that there was.

But they insisted that there was a “confirmation of funding support” from the council, thus they did not commit perjury when they said that the release of the P5.5 million was with the concurrence of the council. Cynthia D. Balana

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Tags: Government , Graft and Corruption , Nereus Acosta , Perjury , Sandiganbayan

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