Sandiganbayan puts Acosta under 90-day preventive suspension

February 10, 2012 11:00 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 10 – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has imposed a 90-day preventive suspension on Presidential Adviser on Environmental Protection J.R. Nereus Acosta for allegedly misusing government funds in 2000 and 2001.

In a 10-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Maria Cristina Cornejo, the court's Fourth Division gave weight to the motion of the Office of the Ombudsman's prosecution team to place Acosta under a preventive suspension for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund while still a congressman of Bukidnon.

"J.R. Nereus Acosta is hereby ordered preventively suspended from office and…is directed to cease and desist from further performing and/or exercising the functions, duties and privileges of the positions he is currently occupying," the Sandiganbayan said.

His current positions are as Presidential Adviser on Environmental Protection and General Manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, "or any other government position he may now or hereafter be holding, effective upon notice hereof and continuing for a period of 90 days."

Invoking Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, the Ombudsman earlier filed a motion to suspend Acosta pendente lite — meaning pending litigation — to prevent him from frustrating or hampering his prosecution by intimidating or influencing witnesses or tampering with evidence or from committing further acts of malfeasance while in office.

The case arose from a complaint filed by Bukidnon Crusade Against Graft and Corruption alleging that Acosta used his PDAF to procure a P2.5-million solar tunnel dryer for the municipal government of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Court records showed the supposed crime was committed while Acosta's mother, Socorro, was still the municipal mayor of Manolo Fortich in 2001.

The BCGAC alleged that another P2.5 million was also supposedly given to a private cooperative, the Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries (Binhi), Inc.

The complaint said a private entity called Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative also received P5.5 million which was part of Acosta's PDAF.

Acosta's aunt, Ma. Nemia Bornidor, who was a member of the board of Binhi and Socorro, a member and director of BVPC, were both charged with graft for the same offense.

The Sandiganbayan said "any political motive allegedly behind the filing of the instant motion, uncorroborated as it is, is ineffective to negate the merits of the motion."

It directed Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. and the Board of Directors of the LLDA to immediately implement the suspension order against Acosta. (PNA)

hbc/PTR

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