MRT-3 head probed over bribery charges

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The head of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) goes on leave to make way for the investigation of the alleged $30 million bribery issue

BRIBERY ISSUE. The general manager of MRT-3 goes on leave as investigation on the alleged bribery issue regarding a train supply contract takes place. File photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya confirmed a report that the head of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has gone on leave to make way for the investigation of the alleged $30 million bribery issue.

On Tuesday, July 23, Abaya told Rappler that an investigation process is ongoing involving Al S. Vitangcol III, general manager of the train system, as well as other transportation officials following complaints about the bidding for the train cars supply contract

“GM Vitangcol was named by the Ambassador,” Abaya said, referring to  Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar who had said that Czech train manufacturer Inekon Group was blacklisted after it refused to pay the grease money.

Abaya added that no timetable has been set for the probe. 

Rappler’s phone calls and text messages to Vitangcol went unanswered. 

Roxas appointee

Vitangcol was appointed to the post during the term of Abaya’s predecessor, Secretary Mar Roxas, who has moved from transportation department to interior and local government.

Vitangcol is a lawyer with experience in civil engineering, highway and transport engineering, infrastructure construction, information technology, and banking and finance, according to his online profile page.

He used to be the director for policy formulation at the PPP Center, which oversees big-ticket infrastructure projects under the government’s flagship public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

He was the managing lawyer of AVALaw, a general practice law firm, and acted as resource person in the hearings of the 14th Congress Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.

He served as the techno-legal consultant of the House of Representatives during the 2010 Joint Congressional Presidential and Vice Presidential Canvassing, focusing on the nature, conduct, complexities, and vulnerabilities of the first ever automated elections.

MRT-3 supply project

The investigation involves the P3.769 billion project for the supply of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) aimed at decongesting the MRT-3.

The existing 73 LRVs are Czech-made. The bidding for the 48 is the first phase of plans to add 70 train coaches. 

The government considered two options — 2nd hand cars from Spain or brand new from Czech Republic. The plan for the 2nd hand coaches was scrapped afer the agency considered cost issues and timing of delivery.

On June 12, the DOTC announced that China state-owned firm Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. CNR Group qualified after its bid was found eligible to proceed to go through detailed evaluation and post-qualification exercises. –

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