DENYING any attempt to extort millions from the Czech Inekon Co., PH Trams Director Wilson Tigno de Vera admitted that MRT 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol and Manolo Maralit were at a dinner on July 9, 2012, with the Inekon CEO and the Czech ambassador and discussed the MRT 3 Capacity Expansion project.
The admission contradicts Vitangcol’s steadfast denials of such a dinner meeting.
A probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the extortion attempt is still going on.
Vitangcol went on leave under pressure from the media and Malacañang. He later said that he went on leave so he would not be accused of influencing the NBI probe.
The extortion attempt was first exposed in a special report by The Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dante A. Ang. He wrote three articles, based on actual interviews with persons involved in the attempt, including Vitangcol.
De Vera confirmed in writing that there were two meetings with Inekon officials and the Czech ambassador.
His disclosures were made in an affidavit he executed before Consul Reichel Quinones of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, California, USA, verified on December 2, 2013.
Quinones’ notarial acknowledgement of de Vera’s affidavit, however, expressly states that the “Consulate General assumes no responsibility for the contents” of de Vera’s affidavit.
Vitangcol had vehemently denied having dinner or meeting with Inekon officials.
But de Vera claimed in his affidavit that his “presence on [sic]those two meetings was due to my capacity as one of the directors of PH Trams, a Rail Maintenance Philippine SEC Registered Corporation.”
The affidavit states that he “was invited and eventually attended that meeting with another director of our company to see if there’s a potential business opportunity and if ever we could be a local partner of this foreign group. It is more of exploratory in nature.”
In the affidavit, de Vera explained that his group was “invited to meet the Czech Ambassador and the Inekon Group due to the close relationship” between another PH Trams director, Manolo Maralit, and Czech Ambassador Joseph Rychtar.
The Czech ambassador has appeared on TV and talked to Philippine media organizations, including reporters of The Manila Times, to complain about the extortion attempt.
He said Inekon and the Czech government’s ministry in charge of the rail transport manufacturing and export abroad have written MRT 3 and the Department of Transport and Communication, many letters over a period of years. These letters were all ignored.
De Vera said in his affidavit that “the first meeting dated July 9, 2012, in Makati City [was]a casual dinner and attended by INEKON CEO Josef Husek, Czech Ambassador Joseph Rychtar, MRT GM Al Vitangcol, Manolo Maralit, Wilson de Vera.”
The dinner meeting was “immediately followed by a coffee table talked [sic]at the Czech ambassador’s Forbes Park residence.”
De Vera said in the affidavit that “Inekon PR man Yurgos Psinakis and Inekon CEO Milan Haloun joined the group but without the MRT 3 GM as he left after the dinner.”
Reports that appeared earlier, however, stated that Vitangcol had said to the Czechs words to the effect that de Vera and others left behind would speak for him.