Czech envoy urged to submit to PH justice system

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Czech Ambassador Joseph Rychtar, who has accused Metro Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol of extorting $30 million from a Czech firm, should submit to the Philippine justice system by waiving his diplomatic immunity.

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Rep. Marcy Teodoro of Marikina, Chairman of the House Legislative Franchises panel, made the call a day after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales invited Rychtar for the second time to shed light on his allegations of extortion vs. Vitangcol, considering that Rychtar already snubbed the earlier invitation by the Ombudsman who is also conducting a motu propio probe on the matter since July 2013.

Rychtar, who has claimed that Vitangcol tried to extort $30 million from Czech car maker Inekon so that the latter can win the government contract for the purchase of 48 new train coaches, has submitted an affidavit before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which is also probing the alleged extortion incident. In the said affidavit, Rychtar also named Wilson de Vera of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) as Vitangcol’s middle man in the alleged extortion attempt.

“The rule of law transcends immunity and treats parties with equality. The Czech envoy should therefore submit himself to our justice system and waive his diplomatic immunity for fair and just trial,” Teodoro, also a lawyer, said in a text message.

Vitangcol has earlier made the same call to the Czech envoy.

While Rychtar has submitted an affidavit before the NBI, he did not show up in the probes done by the House Good Government and Public Accountability panel and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Since Rychtar failed to show up in the DOTC probe to substantiate his claims, the DOTC cleared Vitangcol of any wrongdoing.

“The Czech envoy went on a media tour to revive the alleged $30 million extortion against an MRT official. He is accusing a public official of a very grave crime. if he si speaking the truth, then he must submit himself to our justice system,” Teodoro argued.

“If a request to waive his diplomatic immunity is made, it is not ganging up or bullying. It is calling for fairness,” Teodoro added.

But for opposition Rep. Rodito Albano of Isabela, asking Rychtar to waive his diplomatic immunity would be too much.

“Everybody wants to unearth the truth. But it would be an insult to call on the envoy to drop his diplomatic immunity. The envoy is sovereign. By asking that, Vitangcol accused the whole Czech Republic of lying,” Albano, a lawyer and a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said.

LP Secretary General and Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento earlier denied Rychtar’s claims that DOTC Secretary Joseph “Jun” Abaya even raised his voice on the Czech envoy.

“There is no ganging up. We want the truth and he (Rychtar) should not make up anything like saying that Secretary Jun spoke to him in a raised voice. How could Secretary Jun talk to him in a raised voice when they are yet to speak to each other? What a big lie! Besides, Secretary Jun is very soft spoken. He is like a priest,” Sarmiento stressed in a separate talk. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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