Vitangcol posts bail for graft raps involving alleged $30-M extort try | Inquirer News
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Vitangcol posts bail for graft raps involving alleged $30-M extort try

/ 06:31 PM December 01, 2016
MAY 27, 2014 Atty. Al Vitangcol, general manager MRT3, during the committee meeting on Good Government and Public Accountability in Congress. LYN RILLON

Atty. Al Vitangcol. LYN RILLON

Sacked Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) General Manager Al Vitangcol III on Thursday posted his bail after he was ordered arrested for graft by the Sandiganbayan for an alleged extortion try on Czech firm Inekon in exchange for contracts with the railway system.

Vitangcol went to the anti-graft court Thursday afternoon to post his bail bond of P30,000 for each of his two counts of graft for a total amount of P60,000.

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READ: Arrest warrant out vs Vitangcol for $30-M extort try 

In an interview with reporters, Vitangcol slammed the Ombudsman for persecuting him in the filing of cases.

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“Itong Ombudsman, talagang selective sa kanilang pag-prosecute… Hindi po it prosecution, ito po ay persecution,” Vitangcol said.

(This Ombudsman is really selective in their prosecution. This is not prosecution, this is persecution.)

He said the Ombudsman formally filed the charges after his newspaper column came out alleging anomalies in the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Also, the Ombudsman indicted him over the extort try when he exposed the alleged anomalies of the DOTC under then secretary Jun Abaya, the former Liberal Party acting president.

“Kung titingnan po natin ang timing ay mukhang kaduda duda,” Vitangcol said.

(If you look at it, the timing seems suspicious.)

Vitangcol managed to plug in his next column, this time about anomalies in the Ombudsman surrounding pressures from alleged higher-ups.

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“Yung isusulat ko po sa Sabado ay abangan niyo po. Ito po ay tungkol sa black holes of justice ng Ombudsman. Ito po ay paggawa ng resolusyon at desisyon na hindi naman naaangkop sa facts of the case pero ito po ay sumusunod lamang sa pinag-utos sa kanila ng kanilang mga benefactor,” Vitangcol said.

(Wait for my column on Saturday. It will be about the black holes of justice in the Ombudsman, about the writing of resolutions and decisions which is not aligned with the facts of the case, while following the orders of their benefactor.)

Vitangcol posted bail after the court on Nov. 29 served the arrest warrant against him and his alleged envoy Wilson De Vera.

Both were formally charged with two counts of graft or violations of Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

READ: Ex-MRT general manager Vitangcol faces trial for $30-M extort try

Vitangcol now represents an anti-corruption group Citizens’ Crime Watch.

During the 2013 midterm elections, De Vera was a mayoral candidate in Pangasinan under the Liberal Party but he lost.

In indicting Vitangcol, the Ombudsman said Vitangcol’s first graft charge stemmed from allegations that he attempted to extort $30 million from Inekon in exchange for contracts for the supply for additional light rail vehicles and maintenance of the MRT-3 in connection with the P3.7 billion MRT-3 expansion project in 2012.

READ: Ex-MRT chief Vitangcol indicted for $30M extort try

Ombudsman investigation showed that Vitangcol sent his envoy De Vera to demand the payment of $30 million, later reduced to $2.5 million, for Inekon to be awarded the contract.

Vitangcol and De Vera were accused of extorting $30 million from Inekon Group CEO and chair Josef Husek at the residence of then Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar in exchange for granting Inekon the P3.7-billion contract to supply 48 coaches for the MRT 3 expansion. Inekon turned down the extort try.

Vitangcol and De Vera’s second graft charge stemmed from an allegation that they conspired and insisted for Inekon to sign a joint venture agreement for the maintenance contract under a 60-40 percent sharing scheme with a group of persons who included De Vera, an incorporator of the firm Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH-Trams).

After weighing in the testimonies by Rychtar and Husek, as well as the conflicting statements by Vitangcol and De Vera, Ombudsman Morales said the “totality of x x x circumstances, taken together with the affirmative declarations of complainant’s witnesses” would show that Vitangcol attempted to extort Inekon in exchange for the contract.

READ: Vitangcol: I’m just a fall guy

The Ombudsman also found Vitangcol guilty of the administrative offenses of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty and Unlawful Solicitation, and was ordered dismissed from service and perpetually barred from government with his retirement benefits forfeited.

Due to Vitangcol’s separation from the service, the penalty of dismissal is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary.

In his affidavit submitted to the House of Representatives which investigated the alleged extort try, Husek said he and Rychtar met De Vera in July 2012 when De Vera proposed that Inekon pay $30 million for the company to be selected as the supplier of MRT coaches.

When Inekon turned down the offer, De Vera returned and proposed instead a 60-40 joint venture between Inekon and a group of incorporators selected by Vitangcol for the maintenance contract of the MRT.

The MRT maintenance contract with Sumitomo was then set to expire in Oct. 2012.

The maintenance contract was later awarded without public bidding to PH Trams-CB&T, a graft-ridden contract which earned Vitangcol his first graft case.

READ: Amid graft raps, Vitangcol says MRT under new management worse

Vitangcol’s first graft case before the Sandiganbayan was for allegedly irregularly awarding without public bidding the MRT-3 maintenance contract to PH Trams-CB&T joint venture where his uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano is an incorporator.

Vitangcol had decried selective justice, adding that the Ombudsman cleared former transportation secretary Jun Abaya even though it was him who approved the anomalous contract to PH Trams.

READ:MRT fiasco: Vitangcol indicted for graft, Abaya spared

Vitangcol was sacked by the DoTC in Aug. 2014 after he was accused of conflict of interest when he awarded a contract to the firm of his wife’s uncle. TVJ

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TAGS: Al Vitangcol III, anti-graft court, Department of Transportation and Communications, Inekon, Jun Abaya, Metro Rail Transit, MRT 3, Vitangcol
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