MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Tuesday approved the recommendation of the Field Investigation Office (FIO) to conduct preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against former Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) general manager Al Vitangcol III and Wilson De Vera, in connection with the P3.76-billion MRT 3 Capacity Expansion Project.
De Vera was an incorporator of PH TRAMS Corporation which bagged a maintenance contract in MRT 3.
Vitangcol and De Vera are facing criminal charges for violations of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, and Section 7(d) of RA No. 6713, or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees”.
Vitangcol also faces administrative charges for dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
A special panel of Ombudsman field investigators tasked to gather evidence was created in July 2013, which fact-finding investigation was prompted by news reports on the alleged attempt to extort money from the Czech company Inekon Group reportedly in exchange for bagging the contract to supply trains to the MRT 3.
The FIO reported that on July 9, 2012 upon the request of Vitangcol, a dinner with Inekon representatives took place in a restaurant in Makati City which was attended by De Vera, Czech Republic Ambassador Josef Rychtar, and Inekon Group representatives Josef Husek, chief executive officer; Manalo Maralit, acting as liaison officer for Inekon; and a certain Haluon.
It said that before the dinner ended, Maralit informed the Inekon representatives that Vitangcol wanted to continue with the discussion of the project on the same night, and as agreed upon, the group, with the exception of Vitangcol, repaired to the residence of Ambassador Rychtar in Forbes Park in Makati City wherein De Vera indicated that the Inekon would be selected as the supplier of the tram vehicles on the condition that the latter would pay US$ 30 million, which amount would be later reduced to US$ 2.5 million.
It added that on July 10, 2012, a meeting took place between Vitangcol and Inekon representatives at the former’s office where Vitangcol allegedly asked Inekon representatives whether they agreed with the proposal of De Vera regarding the payment of US$ 2.5 million in exchange for the award of the MRT 3 project, to which offer the Inekon representatives refused.
A separate investigation was ordered conducted on reports regarding the MRT 3 interim maintenance contract for 2012-2013 awarded to PH TRAMS Corporation wherein Vitangcol’s alleged uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, and De Vera are among the incorporators.