• Sandigan denies Vitangcol’s plea to dismiss graft raps

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    The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division stood pat on its ruling denying the appeal of former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol 3rd to dismiss the graft charges filed against him last year.

    The anti-graft court set his arraignment on June 15.

    Vitangcol, along with Wilson De Vera, was charged with violation of Section 3(b) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) in two separate charge sheets filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in November.

    One case stemmed from an alleged extortion try on representatives of Czech company Inekon Group in connection with the contract for the supply of Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) in 2012, while the other arose from an alleged request for Inekon representatives to forge a joint venture deal with a group in connection with the contract for the train system’s maintenance service.

    Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada, who leads the court’s Sixth Division, penned the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justice Karl Miranda and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

    The Manila Times’ Chairman Emeritus Dante Ang was the first to report about the meetings held between Inekon officials and Vitangcol, who left office in 2014.

    In its complaint, the Ombudsman said Vitangcol, through De Vera, attempted to extort money from Inekon representatives. The Inekon representatives turned down the alleged demand for $30 million, which was reduced to $2.5 million, which was likewise turned down.

    Also, the Ombudsman alleged that Vitangcol urged Inekon representatives to forge a joint venture agreement for the maintenance service of MRT3 with a group including De Vera for a 60-40 percent sharing agreement.

    Vitangcol said the charges were baseless. He and De Vera are out on bail. REINA TOLENTINO

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