Elizabeth Marcelo | Philstar.com | December 5, 2016

MANILA, Philippines - Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) general manager Al Vitangcol III yesterday accused Sen. Leila de Lima of being among the previous administration's officials who were behind what he described as his "persecution" by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In a press conference in Quezon City, Vitangcol said then justice secretary De Lima blocked the release of a February 2014 report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that supposedly cleared him of any involvement in the reported extortion attempt on the Czech company Inekon Group.

"If only this NBI report was released in 2014, I would not have suffered. Me and my family would have continue living a normal life," Vitangcol said.

On Thursday, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division issued a warrant of arrest for Vitangcol and his co-accused Wilson de Vera, one of the directors of MRT maintenance provider PH Trams. The arrest order was in connection with two counts of graft recently filed against them by the ombudsman for allegedly trying to extort $30 million from Inekon in exchange for awarding the contracts to supply train coaches and to maintain the MRT 3. Vitangcol and De Vera each posted P60,000 bail on Thursday and Tuesday, respectively. Vitangcol said the NBI, in its "in-depth" investigation report, found the allegation of former Czech ambassador Josef Rychtar about the extortion try "baseless and unsubstantiated," but De Lima allegedly prevented its release to the media, saying that "it needs the approval of the president (Noynoy Aquino)." He said that De Lima prevented the release of the NBI report to allegedly shield some higher officials of the Aquino administration. "This NBI report was not released to cover up the liabilities of the previous administration," Vitangcol said. But when asked by reporters if he had a copy of the NBI report, Vitangcol admitted that he never saw it and only learned about its contents from a trusted "insider."