MalacaÑang on Thursday refused to comment on a statement of Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar that “influential people” are covering up an alleged extortion attempt by some officials in connection with the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 project.
Reports said Rychtar reported the alleged extortion attempt to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya but the latter did not act on his complaint.
But Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. maintained that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has sufficiently addressed all concerns related to the issue.
“This is a DOTC matter on which their [spokesman]has already stated their position as may be gleaned from online news sources. We see no need to comment further,” Coloma told reporters.
The ambassador earlier claimed that some DOTC officials, including MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol, demanded $30 million from Czech company Inekon in exchange for the 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 and Quezon cities—but the MRT head denied it.
The controversy, which dragged President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s sister Ballsy and her husband Eldon Cruz, was first published by The Manila Times through a three-part series written by the paper’s Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Dante A. Ang.
But in a letter to the President, Rychtar said the Cruz couple was not involved in the extortion attempt.
The ambassador claimed that Inekon was blacklisted by the DOTC, but this was denied by the Palace and Abaya.
On July 19, the DOTC said it has initiated an investigation of Rychtar’s allegations. Abaya said he will also forward documents to the Office of the Ombudsman so that it can conduct its own probe.
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.