By Rio N. Araja | The Standard | December 2, 2015

THE Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday filed graft charges against former MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol and executives of a private corporation before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the MRT-3 interim maintenance contract in 2012.

Named as Vitangcol’s co-accused were executives of the PH Trams incorporators Wilson de Vera, Marlo de la Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, who is now the provincial accountant of Pangasinan.

Vitangcol allegedly conspired with PH Transcom officials to ensure the awarding of the contract despite that PH Trams could have been automatically disqualified from participating in the procurement of the MRT-3 maintenance contract since Vitangcol was Soriano’s relative, the Ombudsman said.

Vitangcol as the head of the negotiating team and bids and awards committee member, “intentionally concealed” his relationship with Soriano to ensure the awarding, instead of disqualifying PH Trams from the bidding.

Based on the affidavit of disclosure submitted to the government, PH Trams allegedly gave a false statement after indicating that “none of PH Trans incorporators is related by consanguinity or affinity up to the third civil degree to the Head of the Procuring Entity, members of the Bids and Awards Committee, Technical Working Group, the BAC Secretariat, and Head of the Project Management Office.”

“[Vitangcol] in his official capacity... while having a direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in PH Trams, being the nephew-in-law of accused Soriano, with all of the accused fully knowing, yet concealing, such financial or pecuniary interest of Vitangcol in PH Trams,” the charge sheet read.

MRT-3 and PH Trans CB&T entered into a six-month contract being the latter as an interim maintenance provider of the railway in the amount of $1.15 million per month.

The contract was thrice renewed until Sept. 4, 2013.