OUT. Former MRT 3 general manager Al Vitangcol says his resignation is irrevocable. Photo by Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Did embattled Metro Railway Transit (MRT) 3 general manager Al Vitangcol resign or was he sacked?
Both instances, in fact, happened on the same day, Vitangcol said in a hearing at the House of Representatives Tuesday, May 27.
"I was temporarily relieved then I communicated to them my desire to resign," Vitangcol said.
Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya, who was present during the hearing, said he ordered a quick investigation upon learning about an article by Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc revealing that Vitangcol's uncle-in-law was one of the incorporators of a company that bagged a P517.5-million service deal with the government for the maintenance of MRT 3.
When it was concluded that no declaration was made of the relationship between Vitangcol and his uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, during the bidding, Abaya said he made a special order on Monday to relieve Vitangcol of his duties and assign Light Rail Transit Authority administrator Honorito Chaneco as the officer in charge of MRT 3.
The order relieving Vitangcol was supposed to be "temporary in nature" while investigation was being completed.
But by Monday evening, Vitangcol said he "deemed it best to resign." In his statement to the media, Vitangcol said he decided to do so to "insulate the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and the appointing authorities" from "issues" against him.
Vitangcol was expected to formally file his letter of resignation Tuesday morning.
For the resignation to be formalized, however, Abaya said President Benigno Aquino III still has to accept it since Vitangcol is a presidential appointee.
But whether or not the president accepts his resignation, Vitangcol said his decision shall remain.
During the hearing, Cavite 4th district Rep Elpidio Barzaga asked: "Was your resignation subject to the acceptance of the President or was it an irrevocable resignation?"
Vitangcol did not answer the question directly. As a response, he said his resignation was effective immediately.
Barzaga pressed further and asked: "Would it be a correct appreciation that if the President won't accept your resignation you will continue as MRT chief?"
Vitangcol answered: "No, your honor, because I have already tendered my resignation."
In 2013, Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar accused Vitangcol of being part of a group that tried to extort $30 million from Czech firm Inekon Group in exchange for a contract to supply trains for MRT 3. He went on leave following the controversy but returned to office when the issue died down.
Asked why Vitangcol was not relieved from office over the extortion issue, Abaya said DOTC's administrative investigation did not find enough reason to do so after those involved failed to cooperate with their investigation.
Abaya said DOTC had a difficult time compelling people to cooperate since the agency does not have subpoena powers. – Rappler
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