• Court affirms Ombudsman ruling on Vitangcol case

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman that found former Metro Rail Transit Authority (MRTA) General Manager Al Vitangcol 3rd guilty of administrative charges for a multimillion peso extort try.

    In a 23-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Pedro Corales and concurred in by Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo, the CA’s Eighth Division denied a petition for review filed by the camp of Vitangcol.

    It effectively affirmed the assailed February 12, 2016 decision and June 14, 2016 joint order of the Ombudsman in the case.

    The case stemmed from an allegation that Vitangcol attempted to extort $30 million from Czech company Inekon, which had supplied light rail vehicles (LRVs) to MRTA.

    According to the Ombudsman, investigation disclosed that payment in advance by Inekon of $30 million, later reduced to $2.5 million, and entering into a joint venture by Inekon with a group proposed by Vitangcol were imposed as pre-conditions by Vitangcol.

    It was allegedly made in conspiracy with Wilson de Vera, for the Czech firm to be awarded the contracts for the supply of additional LRVs and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit 3 line in connection with the P3.7-billion MRT 3 expansion project in 2012.

    In addition, it was also revealed that Vitangcol insisted on the Czech company to enter into a joint venture with a group of people for the MRT 3 maintenance project.

    Besides graft raps, Vitangcol was also found administratively guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and unlawful solicitation, which perpetually disqualified him from holding public office with forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility.

    He sought reconsideration but to no avail, prompting him to seek redress before the appellate court.
    In its July 3, 2017 ruling that was released just recently, the CA held that the Ombudsman was right when it handed down its verdict against Vitangcol.

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