Sandigan orders arrest of Vitangcol
Former Metro Rail Transit 3 general manager Al Vitangcol III on Thursday posted a P60,000 bail for two graft charges in connection with an alleged $30-million extortion attempt on a Czech company.
The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division issued on Nov. 29 an arrest warrant against Vitangcol and his supposed go-between, Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. executive Wilson de Vera, who posted bail earlier and went through conditional arraignment.
In an interview with reporters at the antigraft court, Vitangcol called the Office of the Ombudsman’s charges “trumped-up” and “baseless.”
He said the Ombudsman went after him only, sparing higher officials of what was then the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), including Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, a Liberal Party stalwart.
“We would see that this Ombudsman is very selective in its prosecution, and as I said before, this is not prosecution but persecution,” Vitangcol said.
“They would only look at certain documents, they refuse to look at others, and there are even some that they would distort,” he added.
Vitangcol also said he would write an article on the “black holes of justice” at the Office of the Ombudsman for coming up with decisions and resolutions “at the orders of their benefactors.”
He said former Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar, who is set to be a prosecution witness in the trial, “had only spewed lies.”
“If they [the prosecutors] really believed in what the ambassador said, why did they only concentrate on what he said against me and not against the other officials of the DOTC,” he pointed out.
Vitangcol and De Vera face two counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
State prosecutors said Vitangcol initially sent De Vera to demand $30 million from representatives of Inekon Group, a.s., at Rychtar’s house in Forbes Park on July 9, 2012.
This was allegedly in exchange for bagging the contract for supply of light rail vehicles under Lot 1 of the MRT 3 Capacity Expansion Project.
Inekon’s representatives refused and stood their ground even after De Vera allegedly lowered the amount to S2.5 million. The next day, Vitangcol himself allegedly pushed the offer during a meeting in his office to no avail.
Vitangcol also allegedly pressured Inekon to enter into a 60-40 sharing agreement with De Vera’s group for the MRT 3 maintenance contract, but the Czech firm also turned down this offer.
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