After graft rap due to MRT fiasco, Vitangcol pins down Abaya
Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol III wants to find out why his former boss Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was not included in the former’s graft case over the MRT maintenance contract mess.
In a motion to allow production of material evidence and admissions by adverse party filed before the anti-graft court Third Division, Vitangcol asked the court to direct the Office of the Special Prosecutor to produce material evidence pertaining to officials the Ombudsman acquitted of the graft case.
Vitangcol through his counsels asked the Ombudsman prosecutors to provide authenticated copies of the counter-affidavits of those acquitted.
One of those Vitangcol wants to have a copy of is the counter-affidavit of Abaya, who was cleared by the Ombudsman in the graft indictment.
Furthermore, Vitangcol wants the prosecution to admit under oath that Abaya in his counter-affidavit said the MRT maintenance contract was above board and that the MRT-3 had to enter into a negotiated procurement.
Vitangcol also wants the prosecution to admit that Abaya in his affidavit said that he signed the notice of award to Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams), that the Bids and Awards Committee and the negotiating team followed the procedure and complied with the requirements and that the contract with PH Trams did not cause injury to government.
Vitangcol said he requested the Ombudsman for copies of the counter-affidavits, however, the office refused his request.
Abaya’s affidavit, among others, would “negate the wrongful accusations of the Ombudsman.”
“The Ombudsman deliberately and maliciously withheld the said affidavits, all to the detriment of the herein accused,” Vitangcol said.
Vitangcol likewise asked the court to defer his scheduled pre-trial pending his request.
“Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the Office of the Special Prosecutor be directed to produce and allow the copying of the mentioned Counter-Affidavits, which are material evidence relative to the instant case, and to respond to the enclosed Request for Admissions and Production of Material Evidence,” the motion said.
In his motion for reconsideration on the Ombudsman’s graft indictment against him, Vitangcol asked the reason behind why Abaya, despite his signatures in the documents, was not indicted for the alleged graft-ridden maintenance contract with PH Trams.
“The award of the contract was the product of a collegial determination. However, it was subject to the approval of DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) (Undersecretary (Jose) Lotilla and Secretary Abaya… The contract would not have been awarded to PH Trams and CB&T JV had it not been for the subsequent approval of Lotilla and Abaya,” Vitangcol’s motion said.
Abaya is the acting president of the Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino III.
Vitangcol earlier asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him a Public Attorney’s Office counsel, saying he was rejected by some law firms which do not want to represent him in the high-profile case.
He added that he does not have P1 million to pay a competent counsel.
Ombudsman charged Vitangcol of graft for awarding without public bidding the interim maintenance contract for MRT-3 to PH Trams.
The Ombudsman also charged Vitangcol for failing to disclose that one of the incorporators of PH Trams—Arturo Soriano—is his wife’s uncle. Soriano is now a provincial accountant of Pangasinan.
Vitangcol was charged with PH Trams incorporators Wilson De Vera, Arturo Soriano, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo.
They are charged 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 MRT-3 interim maintenance contract.
Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
Meanwhile, Section 3(h) of the antigraft law prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.
Section 65(c)(1) of R.A. 9184 punishes the act of “submit[ting] eligibility requirements of whatever kind and nature that contain false information or falsified documents calculated to influence the outcome of the eligibility screening process or conceal such information in the eligibility requirements when the information will lead to a declaration of ineligibility from participating in public bidding.”
Amid a graft-ridden contract, the MRT is beset with operational breakdowns, delays and long lines of passengers daily. RAM
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