FORMER MRT general manager Al Vitangcol III is facing another graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly trying to extort $30 million from a Czech company that is into the procurement and maintenance of trains.
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices against Vitangcol, along with Wilson de Vera, one of the incorporators of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp.
The Ombudsman said Vitangcol and De Vera conspired to demand $30 million from Inekon and insisted on that company to enter into a joint venture with a group of persons for the maintenance of MRT line 3.
The Ombudsman said Vitangcol was guilty of two counts each of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and unlawful solicitation and ordered Vitangcol’s dismissal from government service.
“Due to his separation from the service, however, the penalty of dismissal is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary,” the Ombudsman statement read.
Vitangcol was also ordered perpetually disqualified to hold public office with forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and bar from taking the civil service examination.
Investigation showed payment in advance by Inekon of $30 million, later reduced to $2.5 million, and entering into a joint venture by Inekon with a group proposed by Vitangcol were imposed as pre-conditions by Vitangcol in conspiracy with De Vera for Inekon to be awarded the contracts for the supply of additional light rail vehicles and maintenance of the MRT3 line in connection with the P3.7- billion MRT3 expansion project in 2012.
After considering the evidence, including the statements of Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon representative Joseph Husek as well as Vitangcol’s and De Vera’s conflicting statements, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found that the “totality of x x x circumstances, taken together with the affirmative declarations of complainant’s witnesses,” convinced that there was a failed attempt to extort from Inekon as a condition for Inekon to secure the contract for the supply of trains was made upon the behest of Vitangcol.
Vitangcol is facing a separate trial for graft before the Sandiganbayan for the 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, was an incorporator.