THE $30-M EXTORT TRY: FACT OR FICTION

VITANGCOL, A SACRED COW?

3

Part two

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In the case of MRT Gen. Manager Al Vitangcol, the reverse is true. Affidavits, letters, personal appearance were present to warrant an honest to goodness investigation. Absent, however, was any investigation into the participation of Vitangcol in the alleged $30 million extortion attempt. On the contrary, he was administratively cleared because, said the ruling, “the Czech ambassador has either failed to submit a signed affidavit [despite the fact that he did]or was not cooperative [despite the fact that he was].

A photocopy of an immigration document showing that Jorgos Psinakis arrived on July 10, 2012.

A photocopy of an immigration document showing that Jorgos Psinakis arrived on July 10, 2012.

In trying to shield Vitangcol, the Palace, the DOTC, and the DOJ came up with a convoluted explanation that the NBI has yet to submit its recommendation and that the people should wait for its findings before judging the MRT General Manager. Since the alleged shakedown happened in July 2012, no official criminal investigation has been conducted on the individuals who figured in it. How long does it take the NBI to investigate a case with complainants having submitted written and verbal complaints as early as mid-2012?

Gaping holes in De Vera affidavit
For his part, De Vera was patently lying, according to a source, when he said that Jorgos Psinakis, the Inekon representative, was present during that dinner when the alleged $30 million extort attempt occurred. In his affidavit to the NBI, De Vera wrote, “Immediately after the dinner, it was followed by a coffee table talked (sic) at the Czech Ambassador’s Forbes Park residence wherein INEKON PR man Jorgos Psinakis and INEKON COO Milan Haloun joined the group but without the MRT3 GM as he left after the dinner.”

However, sources would attest that Jorgos was not present during that controversial dinner on July 9, 2012 at the residence of the Ambassador. The Times received a copy of Jorgos’ immigration arrival stamp showing that he landed at the NAIA only on July 10, 2012 on board Qatar Airline Flight 862 from Doha, Qatar. (Please see photo of Immigration arrival stamp). Jorgos is currently in Greece campaigning for his brother who is running for an elective post.

De Vera also denied the alleged extortion attempt. In his affidavit he said, “When we open (sic) talked on the business potential, naturally, I talked straight and asked them what would be in store/share for PH TRAMS if in case they will accept PH TRAMS as their local partner here in the Philippines with regard to the tendering of supply for the new LRV’s for MRT3 or for its after sales services, for a moment it seems (sic) everybody was skeptical for the main reason that this is (sic) the first time we have met each other and talking about their project that they have been lobbying for quite some time now.”

SEC documents obtained by The Manila Times, however, would show that PH TRAMS was registered in the Baguio Extension Office only on August 6, 2012 or twenty seven (27) days after the dinner meeting at the residence of the Czech Ambassador (Please see SEC registration photo).

How then could De Vera be talking about a possible tie-up with Inekon when at the time of the meet, his company, Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) was not yet incorporated? Does he think the Inekon officials would be so stupid that they would waste their precious executive time talking to a representative of a still unregistered company?

Another question: Why file in Baguio City when four of its six incorporators are all residing in Manila, namely Mario Dela Cruz, Federico F. Remo, Manolo M. Maralit and Alfreda Tan Maralit? The other two—Arturo V. Soriano and Wilson T. De Vera—registered their addresses in Pangasinan. By the way, De Vera has admitted that he owns a house and stays in the United States for periods of time. This matter of filing in Baguio may be a small or irrelevant matter, but it certainly raises eyebrows, if not suspicion.

Why then would De Vera solicit a possible partnership with Inekon when he knew that PH Trams at the time of the meet was not yet incorporated? Note also that nothing in his affidavit would show that he was forthright or that at the time of the alleged shameful event, nothing was said that PH Trams was still non-existent. But guess what? A few months after PH Trams was incorporated, it was awarded the MRT3 maintenance contract!

Also, what makes him think that Inekon, a multi-billion dollar company with a global reach and long history, would even consider a tie-up with a local company that is yet to be formed? A company that has absolutely no experience whatsoever in the manufacturing or maintenance of “railways, railroad and other transport systems” and with an authorized capital of only P10 million and a paid up of only P625,000? That it was allowed in the first place by the DOTC to participate in a tender to service and maintain MRT is another great wonder.

Also, why did De Vera not bring up his proposal to the Inekon officials during the first dinner in a Makati restaurant? It could have saved him time. Why did he have to ask the Czech Ambassador for another meeting at the envoy’s residence to propose a joint venture agreement with the Czech company, if according to him, it was only exploratory? Why two dinners? What is so complicated in an exploratory talk of a possible joint venture that it took him and Inekon two meetings?

If you read De Vera’s affidavit nothing there would show that Inekon had indulged him in his proposal. It was simply a passing matter, exploratory only. It was not even in the nature of a proposal. That being the case, would it merit a second meet? Does De Vera think that his initiative of a tie-up with Inekon was such a great idea it had to be discussed in two meetings?

In the “non paper” submitted by Ambassador Josef Rychtar to the Department of Foreign Affairs and in his affidavit to Congress and the NBI, he said that it was De Vera who suggested that the group meet again. It was during the second meeting at the residence of the Ambassador where the $30 million extort attempt happened and where De Vera said he merely floated the idea of a business tie-up with Inekon.

De Vera’s narrative defies common logic. It is compelling only in its fantasy. It is compelling only in its absurdity. It is compelling only in its idiocy.

Vitangcol denies accusation of extortion
On the other hand,Vitangcol’s defense is pegged on his not being present during that shameful occasion at the residence of the Czech Ambassador. He is making a big issue of his absence during the alleged $30 million extortion attempt. He said that his absence during that fateful evening is proof that he is innocent of the charge.

Nobody is disputing that Vitangcol was absent when the alleged $30 million shakedown happened at the residence of the Czech Ambassador. That was never an issue. At issue is whether or not De Vera had acted for and in Vitangcol’s behalf in allegedly demanding $30 million from Inekon officials. The other two are: Did he blacklist Inekon when it did not accept his proposal for a joint venture initiative with his uncle for the maintenance of the MRT? And, was the awarding of the maintenance contract for the MRT rigged in favor of PH Trams/Comm Builders & Technology Phils. Corp?

He has also denied having attended any dinner with the Czech Ambassador, the Inekon officials, Jose Rodriguez, Boy Maralit, Marlo dela Cruz and Wilson de Vera at the plush restaurant in Makati. He has also maintained that he has not met with the envoy and Inekon officials at a coffee shop in Trinoma. In short he has denied having been together with the Ambassador and the Inekon officials outside his office at anytime.

Maralit, Rodriguez and De Vera, however, have confirmed that Vitangcol was present during the dinner at Carpaccio restaurant in Makati. Now, why would Vitangcol continue to stonewall and deny ever having met the Czech Ambassador for dinner at the Carpaccio restaurant and for coffee at Zuni in Trinoma, Quezon City?

Vitangcol has challenged the Ambassador to shed his diplomatic immunity so he could sue the envoy at the proper court. De Vera for his part, challenged Ambassador Rychtar to undergo a lie detector test to determine who between them is lying.

Someone is definitely lying. And it is not H.E. Josef Rychtar, Czech Ambassador to the Philippines.

Sorry boys, try again.

* * *

CORRECTIONS ON PART 1 PUBLISHED YESTERDAY

The 1st sentence of the 3rd paragraph has “earlier” instead of “either.” Corrected, it should read:

“But there will be no party either for Al Vitangcol, MRT3 general manager, and Wilson de Vera, the alleged “courier” who allegedly attempted to shakedown the Inekon officials to the tune of $30 million.”

The 4th sentence of the 10th paragraph had “commending” instead of “condemning.” Corrected, it should read:

He went on to appeal to the public to await the result of the NBI investigation before condemning Vitangcol and De Vera, a member of the Liberal Party.

The $30 million MRT extort try: Fact or fiction? – First of two parts

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3 Comments

  1. Brilliant article & well explained. It seems there is an almighty cover up again. If i were in a top position dealing with top officials in the philippines i would secretly record sound & film of who is there & what was said. Its the only way to be safe in this country. I would also tape every single phone conversation & keep that stored for any later date. MInd even then these scumbags would still deny it & say it was a fraud. I bet they get off with everything as it seems the government want them to be exonerated.

  2. The Senate Blue Ribbon should conduct an investigation and the NBI should already release its investigation report. This case is destroying the name of Pnoy and Secretary De Lima. What goods does Vitangcol have up in his sleeves that he is well protected and can not be investigated honestly???? This case might be the proverbial waterloo of this administration.

  3. I think the President is doing a great job in running after some corrupt officials in the government, but the case of Mr. Vitangcol allegedly involved in bribery bothers me, that I tend to believe that he was involved with the help of Mr. de Vera. Therefore I would like for him to be investigated, failure to do it, will stain the reputation of the President, and his cabinets,