Family feud: Aunt’s affidavit was for sale, says Acosta
Presidential adviser Nereus Acosta has asked the Sandiganbayan to review the Ombudsman’s decision to allow his aunt and co-accused, Nemia Bornidor, to turn state witness in a graft case against them.
In a motion, Acosta and his mother Socorro, another co-accused, alleged that Bornidor’s affidavit was “worthless” because she had offered them her affidavit “for sale.”
The Acostas and Bornidor are facing graft charges in connection with the alleged diversion of farm equipment purchased through Nereus’ priority development assistance funds, commonly known as pork barrel, when he was a Bukidnon lawmaker.
Bornidor is Socorro’s sister. Nereus, who also heads the Laguna Lake Development Authority, is currently serving a 90-day preventive suspension order in connection with the graft case.
The prosecution earlier recommended to the court that Bornidor be allowed to turn state witness, citing the Office of the Ombudsman’s approval of her application. The prosecution said Bornidor could testify on Acosta’s participation in the nongovernment organization (NGO) that received his pork barrel—a case of conflict of interest—and on his alleged plan to use the group for his political plans.
The Acostas argued that a hearing should first be conducted and the prosecution should present additional evidence, other than Bornidor’s affidavit, to justify their application to have her turn state witness.
The Acostas said they should also be given the chance to cross-examine Bornidor and present their own evidence against her allegations. They said her sworn statement should not be taken to be true.
“For this Honorable Court to rely solely on the basis of accused Bornidor’s affidavit without requiring the prosecution to present evidence to show the reliability and truthfulness of the allegations therein is to accept gratuitous statements from a polluted source who craves for exculpation from activities that she actually solely directed,” they said.
Claims for a settlement
The Acostas alleged Bornidor’s counsel had sent text messages to Socorro and said the price of Bornidor’s affidavit was P10.5 million, which was originally P11 million. They claimed the lawyer also e-mailed a message to their Bukidnon lawyer to list Bornidor’s claims for a settlement.
The Acostas denied that they had initially offered Bornidor money.
They said they had simply wanted the family to reconcile, and this request was apparently misconstrued as an offer to buy Bornidor’s affidavit.
All in the family
They stated they did not start reconciliatory talks with her. Their common relatives had been the ones who called for a family reconciliation, they added.
The Acostas said they “quickly rebuffed and ended the negotiations when they discovered that what accused Bornidor wanted was money, not peace.”
The Acostas also questioned the timing of Bornidor’s move to turn state witness, saying it was done to retaliate for Nereus’ filing of a contempt and libel charge against Bornidor’s children.
They argued that if Bornidor was telling the truth, she would not have waited several years before turning state witness.