Vitangcol indicted for extort try

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TWO more complaints were filed against former Metro Rail Transit 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol 3rd.

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the filing of two graft charges against Vitangcol and Wilson de Vera for attempting to extort $30 million from Inekon, a Czech company engaged in the supply of light rail vehicles, and for insisting that Inekon enter into a joint venture with a group of persons for the maintenance of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

Vitangcol was also found administratively guilty of two counts each of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and unlawful solicitation. He was slapped a fine equivalent to his one year salary as MRT General Manager and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The Ombudsman said that its probe showed that the payment in advance by Inekon of $30 million, later reduced to $2.5 million, and Inekon’s move to enter into a joint venture with a group proposed by Vitangcol were imposed as preconditions by the former MRT3 chief, in conspiracy with De Vera, for Inekon to be awarded the contracts for the supply of additional LRVs (light rail vehicles) and maintenance of the MRT3 line.

“After considering the evidence, including the statements of Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon representative Joseph Husek on one hand, and conflicting statements of Vitangcol and de Vera, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found that the ‘totality of circumstances, taken together with the affirmative declarations of complainant’s witnesses,’ convinces this Office that the failed attempt to extort from Inekon as a condition for Inekon to secure the contract for the supply of LRVs was made upon the behest of Vitangcol,” the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.

Vitangcol is already facing graft raps at the Sandiganbayan over the alleged anomalous award of the multibillion peso MRT3 line maintenance contract to PH Trams-CB&T joint venture, of which Arturo Soriano, the brother of Vitangcol’s mother-in-law, is an incorporator.

Vitangcol sought the dismissal of the complaint, saying he had no involvement in the botched maintenance of the rail system.

He said that former Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and current Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya should also be charged because they approved the maintenance contract.

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