By Mark Merueñas | GMA News Online | February 18, 2016
Former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) General Manager Al Vitangcol on Thursday told the Supreme Court that former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya should have been charged over the MRT maintenance contract mess now plaguing the mass rail system.
The beleaguered Vitangcol presented a 23-page affidavit on the matter and asked the high tribunal to accept it.
He climed he was "wrongfully singled-out" by the Office of the Ombudsman in the maintenance service contract for MRT-3.
"I am the only DOTC official charged by the Ombudsman despite the unmistakable knowledge, involvement, participation and instruction of my superiors in the DOTC headed by former Sec. Manuel 'Mar' A. Roxas II, current Secretary Joseph Emilio 'Jun' A. Abaya, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Jose Perpetuo M. Lotilla and Undersecretary Rene K. Limcaoco, who should have been the ones brought to justice for gross and inexcusable inaction if not willful and deliberate manipulation of the events and processes related to the maintenance of MRT," Vitangcol said.
He asked the SC to include the Sandiganbayan Third Division as respondent in his September 4, 2015 petition opposing the graft charges filed against him by the Ombudsman.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division should be "temporarily, preliminarily and, after due proceedings be, permanently restrained/enjoined from proceedings with preliminary conference, pre-trial and/or trial in the case," Vitangcol's affidavit read.
On September 16, 2015, the high tribunal dismissed his petition.
But on November 6, 2015, Vitangcol asked the court to reconsider its ruling.
Vitangcol said his latest affidavit was meant to support his plea for reconsideration.
Roxas is running for Presidency as standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the May elections.
In a separate press briefing Thursday, LP spokesperson and Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez labeled Vitangcol's latest move as “squid tactics” to lay the blame on someone else.
“Obvious ito na naghahanap lang siya ng palusot sa sarili niyang kaso at nakahanap ng madaling target, dahil sa kasalukuyan ay nasa gitna tayo ng isang kampanya sa pagka-Presidente,” Gutierrez said.
On November 17, 2010, the MRT Corporation – the original technical maintenance provider for the MRT-3 – and maintenance service provider Sumitomo Corp. decided to transfer the responsibility of finding a new maintenance contractor to the DOTC.
Back then, Vitangcol said he "noticed... that my superiors in the DOTC were not abreast with its undertakings," as Limcaoco, in an April 2012 meeting, said it was still the MRT Corporation that has been tasked to procure a new maintenance provider.
Vitangcol said he wrote Roxas a letter on May 17, 2012. In the letter, Vitangcol claimed he asked Roxas to issue a directive on which entity should procure the maintenance contract.
"Then Secretary Roxas disregarded my letter as it was unanswered," Vitangcol's affidavit read.
Since there was no reply or any action regarding his letter, Vitangcol claimed he personally gave a copy of it to Roxas on July 20, 2012.
Together with the letter was a recommendation to revert back to the MRT Corporation the responsibility of bidding out the maintenance contract as the DOTC no longer has time to bid out the project.
MRT Corporation Chairman and President Tomas De Leon also wrote a letter to Roxas in July 2012 or three months before the contract with Sumitomo was to expire. De Leon supposedly told Roxas that his company was willing to take over – once more – the role of procuring the maintenance contract.
"Despite this, Secretary Roxas did nothing to act on the request of De Leon," Vitangcol said.
Conflict of interest
Vitangcol opposed what the Ombudsman claimed was a "conflict of interest" between the then MRT-3 general manager and Arturo Soriano, an incorporator of PH Trams.
The consortium of PH Trams and CB&T won the bid for the maintenance contract of the MRT-3.
Even if Soriano was his wife's uncle, Vitangcol noted that Soriano had assigned and sold his shares in PH Trams to Marlo Dela Cruz, the company's chairman.
"Thus, when I acted on matters concerning the proposal of PH Trams, I was always of the firm belief that Soriano was no longer connected with PH Trams," Vitangcol claimed.
Vitangcol said he later wrote Roxas a memorandum, through Director Ma. Cecilia Natividad, requesting the paperwork and allowing the MRT Corporation to procure a new technical maintenance provider for MRT-3.
"The DOTC never had the paperwork done much less provided to the MRTC," said Vitangcol. He emphasized that there was already an urgent need for a maintenance contractor with little time for having a public bidding.
"This situation would not have happened if not for the deliberate and willful inaction or gross and inexcusable negligence of the DOTC led by then Secretary Roxas, Usec. Lotilla and Usec. Limcaoco in timely and properly acting on the need to engage a maintenance service provider for MRT3," said Vitangcol.
On June 26, 2015, the Ombudsman ordered that graft charges be filed against Vitangcol, Soriano, Dela Cruz, Wilson De Vera, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo.
Vitangcol received a notice of arraignment from the Sandiganbayan Third Division on December 18, 2015. He entered a plea of not guilty January 21, 2016. – with a report from Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/ VS, GMA News