He may have resigned as general manager of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) but Al Vitangcol 3rd is not spared from investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P3.76-billion MRT 3 capacity expansion project.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the recommendation of the Field Investigation Office (FIO) to conduct a preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against Vitangcol and Wilson de Vera.
“Vitangcol and de Vera are facing criminal charges for violations of Section 3 [b]of Republic Act No. 3019 [Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act] and Section 7 [d]of Republic Act No. 6713 [Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees],” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement.
The fact-finding investigation was prompted by news reports on Vitangcol’s alleged extortion try on Czech company Inekon group in exchange for being awarded the supply contract of MRT 3 trains.
De Vera, the alleged broker in the extortion attempt, is out of the country.
When he faced the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, Vitangcol admitted that he knows de Vera but that they never discussed extortion.
De Vera is an incorporator of PH-Trams, a company that bagged the P517- million MRT 3 maintenance deal in 2012 with COM Builders.
The Ombudsman ordered a separate probe of reports regarding this contract, where Vitangcol’s alleged uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, is also an alleged incorporator.
The FIO reported that on July 9, 2012, a dinner with Inekon officials took place in a Makati City (Metro Manila) restaurant upon Vitangcol’s request.
Allegedly in attendance were de Vera, Czech Republic Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon Chief Executive Officer Josef Husek, Acting Liaison Officer Manalo Maralit and a certain Haluon.
The Manila Times’ Chairman Emeritus Dante Ang was the first to report about the meetings held between Inekon officials and Vitangcol.
Maralit allegedly informed the Inekon representatives that Vitangcol wanted to proceed with the discussion of the project so the group, except Vitangcol, went to Rychtar’s residence in Forbes Park, Makati City.
There, de Vera indicated that Inekon would be selected as the supplier of tram vehicles on the condition that Inekon will pay $30 million, which was later reduced to $2.5 million, the Office of the Ombudsman said.
It added that on July 10, 2012, Vitangcol and the Inekon representatives met at his office where he asked them if they agreed with de Vera’s proposal, and they refused.
Vitangcol told the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability that he only met with the Czech envoy three times between July 2012 and July 2013.
Rychtar told the National Bureau of Investigation in an affidavit that the alleged extortion happened in July 2012 in de Vera’s presence. He accused Vitangcol of extortion in July 2013.