METRO Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol may resign anytime he wishes but he will remain accountable for any wrongdoing even if he quits his post, Malacañang said on Friday.
According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the embattled MRT chief, who went on leave following his alleged involvement in the $30-million extortion attempt on a Czech firm that supplies train coaches, may opt to resign but that would not exonerate him if indeed he was involved.
“He continues to be accountable for his actions as long as he is in office. Even out of government, an ex-official is accountable for all his actions while in office,” Coloma told The Manila Times.
While maintaining innocence of allegations that he tried to extort Czech firm, Inekon, Vitangcol went on live television to announce that he will quit his post once he is exonerated.
‘’I have considered resigning but not at this time. If I resign at this time, it might be construed as an admission of guilt. Once I’m cleared by all investigating bodies, nobody would ask me to resign. I will resign voluntarily,’’ the MRT chief said in an interview over ANC.
He likewise expressed disgust over his ordeal and blamed government service for his present problems. He said he “didn’t expect government service will be like this.”
Asked if Vitangcol’s remarks would render him a lameduck MRT official and for that he should immediately resign, Coloma replied: “That’s why he is accountable.”
The Palace official also said that if Vitangcol would offer to quit, accepting it would be “ministerial” on the part of the Office of the President (OP).
“Acceptance of resignation is ministerial at level of OP, meaning, it is routinely performed,” Coloma pointed out.
Vitangcol was earlier accused by Czech Republic Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon Group CEO Josef Husek of trying to extort a bribe from the firm through businessman “envoy,” Wilson de Vera.
Husek claimed that in a meeting at Rychtar’s residence in July 2012, de Vera suggested that Inekon would win the contract for the supply of 48 new train coaches for MRT if it would cough up $30 million. Vitangcol was not present at the meeting although the Czechs suspected that it was the MRT chief whom de Vera was talking to on the phone at the time.
In the same ANC interview, Vitangcol dismissed the Czech envoy’s claims as “mere presumption.”
The deal further went down to only $2.5 million the following day when Inekon refused to pay the original amount.
The P3.8 billion MRT expansion project was eventually given to China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company because Inekon failed the bid.