The Sandiganbayan has found ground to try the cases filed against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) General Manager Al Vitangcol 3rd and several others in connection with the award of the MRT 3 interim maintenance deal to a joint venture in 2012.
“After a careful review of the records of these cases, the Court finds that probable cause exists against all the accused . . . in all the charges against them,” the anti-graft court’s Third Division said in its resolution dated December 8 but made public on Thursday.
The charges will be read to the accused in January 2016.
“Since the Court has already found probable cause and considering also that five out of six accused have already posted their respective bail bonds, the next step would be for arraignment . . . which the Court set on January 21, 2016 at 1:30 [p.m.],” Third Division Clerk of Court Dennis Pulma told reporters on Thursday.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges against Vitangcol and five incorporators of PH Trams for violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65, Paragraph C (1) in relation to Section 47 of the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The PH Trams incorporators who were named respondents include Arturo Soriano, who is also the provincial accountant of Pangasinan, Wilson De Vera, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo.
The Ombudsman said the maintenance deal was awarded to the joint venture of PH Trams and Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (CB&T) even if one of the PH Trams incorporators, Soriano, was Vitangcol’s relative (uncle-in-law).
The complaint was raffled to the court’s Third Division on Friday last week. Vitangcol posted P90,000 bail on the same day for his provisional liberty ahead of the court’s ruling on the issue of probable cause.
The court issued an arrest warrant on December 9 only against Remo who has not yet posted bail.
The other accused have each posted P90,000 bail.
The court also barred the accused from leaving the country which means that they will have to seek the Sandiganbayan’s permission before they can travel abroad.