I received a phone call about two hours ago. It was a tip. Apparently, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has issued a warrant of arrest for former Bukidnon First District Congressman Juan Romeo Nereus “Neric” Acosta and his mother, former Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon mayor Socorro “Coring” Acosta. The warrant of arrest was made in connection with a perjury case filed against the Acostas.
I was a bit surprised when I heard the news, actually. Especially since last I heard, the complainant, Fr. Venancio Balansag, Jr., has already withdrawn his complaint and has issued an affidavit of desistance.
A brief backgrounder – graft and corruption charges as well as charges for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials were filed against Neric Acosta and his mother. This was because Neric Acosta, who’s currently a presidential adviser on environmental protection, allegedly illegally used his pork barrel funds (when he was still Bukidnon congressman) amounting to Php 5.5 Million and allegedly illegally channeled the same to the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative, a private institution controlled by his family. The perjury case, meanwhile, stemmed from the allegation that the Acostas made it appear as if the funding program was approved by the Manolo Fortich council which, according to the Ombudsman, “was false, as the accused fully well knew that no such concurrence was given.” More details about the perjury case against Neric Acosta and Coring Acosta here.
By the way, Sir Neric is also the General Manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority.
This development saddens me. Politics aside, Sir Neric and his mother Ma’am Coring were (and still are!) good to me and my family. He did something for me before. I can’t reveal in public exactly what it was but I know that Sir Neric and his family realize how grateful I forever will be.
When I was still starting out as a local reporter, Sir Neric always granted me interviews…and real good ones, I must say! I always had good stories…headline-worthy news articles, thanks to the Acostas. Sir Neric’s dad was also a very pleasant man. I learned so much from him. I also could never forget how Sir Neric agreed to appear at a debate I organized. It was the very first (EVER!) debate where he and political arch-rival former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri were together on one stage. To this day, that has never been replicated and I will forever be grateful to both of them for trusting me.
I now await his statement with regard to this development.