Vitangcol: Gov’t lawyers withholding ‘evidence’
FORMER Metro Rail Transit (MRT) general manager Al Vitangcol has accused government prosecutors of arbitrarily withholding the affidavits of his former coaccused in the graft case he is facing over the award of a $1.5-million maintenance contract to a company partly owned by his wife’s uncle.
In two separate motions, Vitangcol asked the Sandiganbayan Third Division to order the Office of the Ombudsman to provide him copies of the sworn statements submitted by Transport Secretary Joseph Abaya and other officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
“Said affidavits would show the innocence of accused Vitangcol and negate the wrongful accusations of the Ombudsman,” Vitangcol said in a motion he filed Friday.
“The Ombudsman deliberately and maliciously withheld the said affidavits, all to the detriment of the herein accused,” he said.
The former MRT chief also noted that the Ombudsman had decided to drop the graft complaint against Abaya and 13 other DOTC officials who were originally named respondents along with him.
In a separate motion, Vitangcol said Abaya’s statement to the Ombudsman showed that the contract between MRT and the joint venture of Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams) and Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corp. (CB&T) “was aboveboard and he did not conspire with anyone into signing the same.”
He said Abaya had also attested that he had approved the notice of award to the private contractor and that the MRT “had no choice but to enter into a negotiated contract.”
According to Vitangcol, Abaya’s counter-affidavit also noted that the bids and awards committee (BAC) and the negotiating team “followed proper procedure and complied with all the requirements.”
He said the sworn statements of other DOTC officials would support his claim that he did not meddle in the award of the maintenance contract and that the joint venture of PH Trams and CB&T was “found compliant with the technical, legal and financial eligibility requirements.”
Vitangcol, who is out on bail, and five other private individuals, including his uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, had been indicted in three separate cases of violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In recommending the filing of graft charges against Vitangcol and the others, the Ombudsman said the former MRT chief “intentionally hid” his relation to Soriano, which would have prompted the MRT BAC to automatically disqualify PH Trams from the project.
It also questioned why Vitangcol approved the negotiated contract for the maintenance service when there was no emergency situation at the time to necessitate such an agreement.
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