FORMER Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT3) General Manager Al Vitangcol 3rd on Wednesday questioned the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss for lack of merit the complaint filed against Transportation officials over the allegedly irregular award of the MRT-3 maintenance deal to a joint venture.
Last week, the Ombudsman found ground to indict Vitangcol and five incorporators of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) for violation of the anti-graft and procurement laws.
In his motion for reconsideration, Vitangcol said the Ombudsman erred when it ruled that only he and the PH Trams incorporators should be held liable for the deal, absolving other officials of the Department of Transportation and Communication who also approved the contract.
“The award of the contract was the product of a collegial determination. However, it was subject to the approval of the DOTC Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, Jose Perpetuo M. Lotilla and DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya,” he said.
In September last year, the office ordered a preliminary probe of Vitangcol and top executives of the DOTC including Abaya and Lotilla as well as Land Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Honorito Chaneco in connection with the maintenance deal.
“It was just surprising that it was only Vitangcol, on the part of the government, who was singled out by this Honorable Office when it wielded the so-called administration of justice. To his mind, this is some sort of selective justice which should be abhorred at all times,” the appeal read.
Vitangcol reiterated that he does not have power or authority to influence the decisions of the DOTC and Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC).
While the DOTC’s bids and awards committee (BAC) made him part of the negotiating team, he stressed that the deal was subject to the approval of the agency.
“The contract would not have been awarded to PH Trams and CB&T JV had it not been for the subsequent approvals of Lotilla and Abaya,” he stressed.
Charged along with Vitangcol were Wilson De Vera, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Arturo Soriano conspired to irregularly award deal to PH Trams-CB&T joint venture.
It alleged that Vitangcol used his power and authority “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of the maintenance services and “intentionally hid” his affinitive relationship with Soriano, which would have automatically disqualified PH Trams.
But Vitangcol said he “never had any intention” to hide his affinity with Soriano, his uncle-in-law, who is the Provincial Accountant of Pangasinan.
The Ombudsman dismissed Soriano’s claim that he divested his interest because no waiver was recorded in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
It also alleged that it ran against his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), where he said he obtained an interest as a stockholder of PH Trams in November 2012.
But Vitangcol said he should not be faulted if Soriano’s divestment of shares was not registered with the SEC.
He sought the dismissal of the case filed against him “for sheer lack of merit.”
Vitangcol is also facing preliminary probe and administrative adjudication for alleged graft and breach of conduct in connection with his alleged extortion try on Czech company Inekon group in exchange for being awarded the supply contract of MRT 3 trains.
The Manila Times’ Chairman Emeritus Dante Ang was the first to report about the meetings held between Inekon officials and Vitangcol.