Ombudsman files criminal charges vs ex-MRT3 chief

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has filed criminal charges  against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) general manager Al Vitangcol III and 5 others over an alleged anomalous contract for the state-run transit system.

The Ombudsman said on Tuesday, December 1, that it has filed criminal charges before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan against Vitangcol and 5 executives of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) over the awarding of an MRT3 interim maintenance contract without public bidding in 2012.

Charged with Vitangcol are PH Trams executives Wilson de Vera, Marlo dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo, and Arturo Soriano, Vitangcol's uncle-in-law who is currently serving as provincial accountant of Pangasinan.

They are accused of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act, arising from the MRT3 interim maintenance contract.

The Ombudsman said that Vitangcol acted with "evident bad faith, manifest partiality, or gross inexcusable negligence" in "wilfully, unlawfully and criminally" giving "unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference" to PH Trams and joint venture partner Comm Builders  and Technology Philippines Corporation when he recommended and entered into a contract with PH Trams CB&T.

The Ombudsman said Vitangcol did so even if PH Trams was disqualified under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

It said this is "on account of accused Vitangcol’s relationship with accused Soriano, his uncle-in-law, which fact was intentionally concealed to ensure the award of the contract to the said joint venture, to the damage and prejudice of the government."

The Ombudsman also said that  Vitangcol used his power and authority as general manager, chief end-user, head of the negotiating team, and member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of the maintenance services and “intentionally hid his [affinitive] relationsip with Soriano, which would have automatically disqualified PH Trams.” 

The Ombudsman denied the separate motions of reconsideration, ruling that PH Trams incorporators were equally held liable for executing a false Affidavit of Disclosure dated 12 August 2012. It stated that none of the incorporators are related by affinity with any member of the procurement teams.  

Vitangcol was sacked in May 2014 over the alleged anomalous deal with his in-law. His relief was to give way to the investigation. 

In June 2014, Vitangcol was sued over an alleged bribery attempt in connection with an MRT3 capacity expansion project. PH Trams representative De Vera was Vitangcol's alleged liaison in the alleged extortion try. – Rappler.com