Philippine Daily Inquirer | June 27, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Justice Secretary Leila de Lima late Wednesday said she would seek clearance from President Aquino before releasing the findings of the National Bureau of the Investigation (NBI) on Metro Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol’s alleged extortion try on Czech company Inekon.

Vitangcol allegedly attempted to extort $30 million from the Czech train coach builder in 2012.

De Lima submitted to the President the NBI findings and recommendations on May 27.

The justice secretary said the NBI investigation was separate from the Ombudsman’s probe.

“Now that the Ombudsman has released its recommendations, I have to remind the President … to ask clearance if the [NBI report can be released],” De Lima told reporters.

Asked to comment on reports the NBI had recommended the filing of attempted extortion charges against Vitangcol, De Lima said she could neither confirm nor deny this until she secured the presidential clearance.

Upon the recommendation of its Field Investigation Office, the Ombudsman on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the involvement of Vitangcol and businessman Wilson de Vera into the alleged extortion.

The office has looked into the allegations hurled by Inekon Group chief executive officer and chair Josef Husek and Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar.

The two men had testified that Vitangcol and De Vera had asked for a bribe in exchange for granting Inekon the P3.7-billion contract to supply 48 coaches for the MRT 3 expansion. The deal was subsequently awarded to CNR Dalian of China.

Both Vitangcol and De Vera have denied the accusations.–Christine O. Avendaño