Vitangcol sued for bribery over P3.76-B MRT project

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) former general manager Al Vitangcol III was sued for bribery, almost a year after its Field Investigation Office (FIO) started probing his alleged extortion attempt.

In a statement Monday, June 24, the Office of the Ombudsman said Vitangcol faces criminal and administrative complaints over a P3.769-billion (US$85.92 million) MRT-3 capacity expansion project.

The project involves the supply of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) to decongest the MRT-3, which carries 600,000 passengers a day. Its load limit is only 350,000 daily.

According to the FIO report, Vitangcol through a supposed liaison asked for $30 million from Czech company Inekon in exchange for being the project's supplier.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the conduct of preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication on Vitangcol's alleged offenses.

The FIO reported that Vitangcol requested PH Trams Corporation executive Wilson De Vera to meet with Czech envoy Josef Rychtar and Inekon representatives to inform them of the set-up. The meeting happened July 9, 2012z

It further reported that Vitangcol himself met with Inekon representatives a day after, where he followed up on the request De Vera already explained to them.

Along with Vitangcol, his alleged liaison De Vera faces criminal complaints for violations of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 7(d) of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). Vitangcol also faces administrative complaints for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

In 2013, Rychtar alleged that Inekon was blacklisted by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) from the MRT-3 bidding after the company refused to give the $30-million bribe.

The House of Representatives is conducting a probe in aid of legislation into the alleged extortion attempt.

De Vera's company PH Trams, on the other hand, was awarded an interim maintenance contract for MRT-3 operations covering the years 2012-2013.

The Ombudsman likewise ordered a separate investigation on the government contract with PH Trams, where De Vera and Vitangcol’s alleged uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano are incorporators. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P43.84