Sandiganbayan suspends Acosta for 90 days; Acosta: “rule of law should prevail”

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/04 February) Former Bukidnon representative and Presidential Adviser on Environmental Protection Nereus “Neric” Acosta has vowed to a 90-day preventive suspension ordered by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Friday in relation to his case of alleged misuse of his then congressional pork barrel funds.

Acosta told ANC Friday he will respect the order of the court and will not challenge it.

He added that he does not want the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Office of the President to be dragged in the case.

“As all public officers, we should be accountable at all times. If this is what the court says should be done, a 90-day preventive suspension, the rule of law should prevail. I will continue to do what I can but not in an official capacity,” he told the live news program.

Bukidnon Crusade Against Graft and Corruption, who styles itself as an anti-corruption group, sued Acosta for allegedly using his pork barrel funds to give a P2.5-million solar tunnel dryer to the municipal government of Manolo Fortich in 2001, where his Socorro was mayor.

The case also alleged that another P2.5 million was reportedly transferred to the Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries (BINHI) Inc., a private cooperative, and P5.5 million to Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative (BVPC), also a private entity.

The accusers pointed out that Mayor Acosta was a member and director of BVPC while Acosta’s aunt, Ma. Nemia Bornidor, was a member of the board of BINHI.

Acosta told the ANC the graft complaint is a 10-year-old issue.

In December 2011, government prosecutors filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan that Acosta, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager and presidential adviser for environmental protection be suspended until the three graft charges against him are resolved.

According to Malaya newspaper, in a six-page motion filed on December 5, 2011, special prosecutors Rabendranath Y. Uy and Ireneo M. Paldeng told the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division that under the Anti-Graft Law, suspension is mandatory of a public officer against whom a valid information has been filed for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property.

Acosta, his mother, Socorro, a former Manolo Fortich municipal mayor, and his aunt Ma. Nemia Bornidor were indicted for graft for alleged fraudulent handling of public funds amounting to P10.5 million.

Acosta was voted LLDA general manager by members of the board on September 19, 2011.

Earlier in August, he was also appointed by President Aquino as presidential adviser for environmental protection.

He was a member of the House of Representatives for from 1998 to 2007 representing Bukidnon’s 1st district. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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