Azer N. Parroch March 31, 2016 

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) on Thursday shrugged off claims made by former Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol against the agency anew, noting that Vitangcol’s dishonesty was the cause of his removal from the position.

This was after Vitangcol claimed that the DOTC was lying about relieving him from his position and that his uncle, Arturo Soriano, was a director of PH Trams, a company that joined a bidding for the MRT-3 maintenance contract.

Contrary to the DOTC’s statement, Vitangcol said he resigned after he knew he would be relieved, insisting that Soriano is his wife’s uncle and not his uncle.

He added that Soriano had sold his shares in PH Trams when the firm joined the bid for the MRT 3 maintenance contract to its chairman Marlo de la Cruz, who is apparently a member of the Liberal Party (LP) and friend of DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

However, DOTC maintained that Vitangcol was relieved of his duties after his undeclared conflict-of-interest, particularly his ties with Soriano who was then a bidder in the rail system’s maintenance contract, was exposed

“It was this apparent act of dishonesty that served as basis for his being relieved of his duties as General Manager, since all trust and confidence in him was lost,” the DOTC said.

The agency further noted that Vitangcol even admitted under oath at a committee hearing of the House of Representatives shortly after his departure in 2014 that he was indeed relieved of his duties.

“He also admitted to having received the official notice of his sacking on the same day that his conflict-of-interest was exposed,” the agency added.

Moreover, DOTC said that the Ombudsman investigated the procurement process conducted by the DOTC, and found no irregularity in the agency’s actions.

“The Ombudsman concluded, however, that Vitangcol was guilty of having a conflict-of-interest in that bid. These findings reinforced the DOTC’s loss of trust and confidence in Vitangcol due to his failure to disclose his relationship, which casted doubt on his honesty and character,” DOTC said.

DOTC meanwhile reiterated its commitment to strictly comply with procurement laws and to remain committed to ensuring a level playing field so that no under-the-table deals or favoritism may influence the award of its projects.

Vitangcol, who had been appointed to head MRT-3 in 2012, is now facing charges filed with the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman.