Oops, I slipped. In the Special Report, “The $30 million extort try: Fact or Fiction,” I wrote on Tuesday, July 13, “Dela Cruz lowered the demand to $2.5 million.” I was wrong. So sorry. My apologies. The correct sentence should have been, “De Vera [I mistyped Dela Cruz for De Vera] lowered the demand to $2.5 million.”
In his letter to this writer, Atty. Ernesto V. Perez of Gana Manlangit & Perez Law Office, bewails my failure to talk to his client, Mr. Marlo dela Cruz, to get his side of the story. I did not bother to call Dela Cruz because I had mixed information on his whereabouts. My informant who was present when the $30-million demand was aired could not recall whether or not Dela Cruz was present. A member of the group, Manolo Maralit, however said Dela Cruz was not around while still another source said he was.
I decided to take the word of my informant who was present all the time when Maralit, De Vera and two Inekon officials went to the Czech Ambassador’s residence where the alleged imposition had transpired. And I did not bother to call Dela Cruz.
For purposes of clarity, I am reprinting that part of the Special Report with the subheading “INTERVIEW WITH A PRINCIPAL FIGURE.”
“My source, it should now be obvious, is someone who was part of the whole shameful episode. He confirmed the dinner sometime in July 2012 somewhere in Makati with the two Inekon officials, Vitangcol, Maralit who made the arrangement upon the request of the Ambassador, Wilson de Vera and Marlo dela Cruz.
“He said that after the dinner, Maralit went to him and said that ‘Vitangcol wants another meeting somewhere else and he will explain to you what you must do to proceed with the project.’ The Ambassador suggested his residence.
“My source said that Vitangcol begged off saying that Wilson de Vera was authorized to speak for him. PRESENT IN THE MEETING AT THE AMBASSADOR’S RESIDENCE WERE THE AMBASSADOR, THE TWO INEKON OFFICIALS, MANOLO MARALIT, AND WILSON DE VERA. NOBODY COULD ASCERTAIN FOR SURE WHETHER OR NOT MARLO DELA CRUZ WAS ALSO PRESENT. (Emphasis mine.)
“In that meeting, Wilson de Vera offered (named the amount) how much Inekon must pay.” My source said that ‘HE STARTED WITH $30 MILLION” AND SUBSEQUENTLY LOWERED IT TO $2.5 MILLION AFTER THE INEKON GROUP REJECTED HIS DEMAND (emphasis mine). The Ambassador said, “Are you crazy? Do you realize how much each train would cost? Each train will cost $4.5 million?”
“De Vera according to my source, excused himself and said that he “must consult.” He then proceeded to call someone and came back and said, “OK, Mr. Vitangcol said that the consultants have determined that the cost of the train must not go over $3 million.” DELA CRUZ THEN (emphasis mine) lowered the extortion demand to $2.5million.” [End of reprinted part].
It is pretty clear that the flow of events would show that it was De Vera and not Dela Cruz who THEN lowered the demand to $2.5 million. I mistyped Dela Cruz for De Vera. Again, mea culpa.
Also in the letter, lawyer Perez said, “If only you made the proper cross-checking or verification, you would have easily discovered that “Mr. Marlo dela Cruz” was never present in any of those meetings nor did he have any participation whatsoever in the alleged extortion try. Besides, Mr. Dela Cruz had no knowledge or interest whatsoever in the alleged MRT project where the Inekon group had made any offer.”
I STAND BY MY STORY THAT MR. DELA CRUZ WAS PRESENT AT A DINNER IN MAKATI WITH THE CZECH AMBASSADOR, TWO INEKON OFFICIALS, MANOLO MARALIT, WILSON DE VERA, JOSE RODRIGUEZ AND MRT GENERAL MANAGER AL VITANGCOL. THAT DINNER MEETING WAS CONFIRMED BY MY INFORMANT, MARALIT AND RODRIGUEZ.
BUT I DID NOT WRITE THAT MR. DELA CRUZ HAD ANY PARTICIPATION IN THE EXTORTION TRY OR KNOWLEDGE OR INTEREST IN THE MRT PROJECT. DELA CRUZ’ NAME WAS INADVERTENTLY TYPED INSTEAD OF DE VERA.
Please read the letter of lawyer Ernesto V. Perez, counsel for Mr. Marlo dela Cruz, in the Letters to the Editors section (GMP GANA MANLANGIT & PEREZ LAW OFFICE).