The Philippine government has no plans of declaring Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar a “persona non grata” over his accusations of extortion against some transportation officials.
“I think that is not in the horizon of DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] to do so,” Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters.
Lacierda said the government has encouraged the Czech ambassador to cooperate with authorities investigating the case.
“I can assure Ambassador Rychtar that there is an investigation in the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] . . . we certainly encourage him to speak up before the proper body, not just the media,” he added.
Lacierda said the government is ready to probe allegations of wrongdoing as long as the accuser has ample evidence to back up his claims.
“The important thing is, if you have an allegation, if you’re willing to face and present evidence of those allegations, then our investigative bodies are there to investigate,” he noted.
The Palace official said Rychtar does not seem to be cooperating in the investigation.
“It’s certainly interesting why he has not presented any testimony before the NBI. We’d certainly be curious why he’s doing that and not helping the proper investigative bodies to do their jobs,” Lacierda said.
He recalled that the Czech ambassador did not cooperate with the administrative probe conducted by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on the alleged extortion.
The ambassador earlier claimed that some DOTC officials, including Metro Rail Transit [MRT] General Manager Al Vitangcol, demanded $30 million from Czech company Inekon in exchange for a contract to provide several coaches for the modernization of the MRT 3 line. Rychtar claimed that he met Vitangcol and his men twice—in Makati City and Quezon City—but the MRT head denied it.
The controversy was first published by The Manila Times through a three-part series written by the paper’s Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Dante Ang.
The ambassador claimed that Inekon was blacklisted by the DOTC, but this was denied by the Palace and Transporation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
The MRT 3 is Metro Manila’s third rapid-transit line. It forms part of the Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 1 and Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2.