Aquino environment adviser guilty of misusing pork barrel

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager Nereus Acosta is found guilty of misusing pork barrel funds when he was still Bukidnon representative, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ruled on Monday, March 28.

Acosta, who is also presidential adviser for environmental protection, was found guilty of one count of graft by the court's 4th Division for the misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when he was Bukidnon's representative to Congress.

In all, Acosta faced 3 cases. In one of these, he was named co-defendant along with his mother, former mayor Maria Socorro Acosta of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

In the first case, the former representative was accused of favoring the non-governmental organization Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries Incorporated or Binhi over the municipal government of Talakag, Bukidnon, in the use of a solar tunnel dryer worth P2.5 million.

The said dryer was bought using Acosta's PDAF for Talakag, but was transferred to the NGO, whose incorporators included Nereus' father Juan and his aunt Maria Nemia Bornidor.

In the second case, Acosta allegedly gave P2.5 million in cash as financial assistance to the NGO in 2001, and the government of Talakag was used as a conduit.

In the 3rd case, for which Acosta was convicted, the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers' Cooperative (BVPC) received P5.5 million in cash assistance, with the money coming from the municipal government of Manolo Fortich.

The elder Acosta couple as well as Bornidor are connected to the BVPC as cooperators and directors, the prosecutors argued.

Mrs Acosta was also named the lone defendant in a 4th case, in which she is accused of allowing the movement of funds from then-representative Acosta's PDAF to the cooperative.

With the conviction, Sec Acosta is facing a jail term of 6-10 years.

The elder Acosta was convicted by the court of 2 counts of graft.

They have also been barred from working in government. – Rappler.com