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Former legislator sues priest

Official lays contempt charges against Catholic, a government auditor, and a newspaper executive reporter, Manila

June 8, 2011

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A former legislator filed contempt charges against a Catholic priest, a government auditor, and a newspaper executive for allegedly discussing the merits of pending cases filed against him. Juan Romeo Nereus O. Acosta, an ally of President Benigno Aquino, who ran and lost in the 2010 senatorial elections, said he was a victim of a "smear campaign" designed to block his appointment as Aquino's environment secretary. Acosta asked the court to impose a 5,000 peso (US$116) fine and one imprison for a month Father Venancio Balansag Jr. of Bukidnon, Philippine Star vice president for advertising Lucien C. Dy-Tioco, and auditor Carlo Matias. The complaint was based on a newspaper report and a letter published on the Philippine Star urging Aquino not to appoint Acosta because of four pending criminal cases before the anti-graft court. Acosta said the articles are proof of a "nefarious intention" of damaging his reputation and exposing him to public hatred in an effort to prevent his appointment to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Acosta is facing trial for charges of graft for allegedly giving out government funds to private entities in his province. In statements made earlier, Father Balansag, chairman of the Bukidnon Crusade Against Graft and Corruption, said Aquino should wait for the court to resolve the cases against Acosta before considering him for any Cabinet post. "[Aquino] has made a promise to weed out corruption in government. We would be very disappointed should he appoint Nereus Acosta without the case being resolved first," the priest said earlier.
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