By Michael Punongbayan | The Philippine Star | December 11, 2015

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan has issued three separate hold departure orders against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol III, who is facing criminal charges for his alleged role in a train service maintenance deal anomaly.

Also barred from leaving the country without prior permission from the anti-graft court were his uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano, currently the provincial accountant of Pangasinan; Wilson de Vera, who ran for mayor under the Liberal Party in Calasiao, Pangasinan; Marlo de la Cruz, a Liberal Party campaign supporter in Manaoag, Pangasinan; Manolo Maralit and Federico Remo.

Vitangcol’s fellow respondents were charged as incorporators of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams), which bagged on Oct. 20, 2012 the MRT-3 interim maintenance deal worth $1.15 million a month without the conduct of public bidding.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division headed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to implement the order and place the names of the accused in its hold-departure list.

Vitangcol and the PH Trams officials are facing two separate cases of graft and another charge for alleged violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The anti-graft court, finding probable cause, also ordered the issuance of arrest warrants against the six. Vitangcol, however, posted bail of P90,000 last week before the orders were issued.

The Office of the Ombudsman accused the former MRT-3 chief and PH Trams of conspiring with each other to award the contract without public bidding, thus violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Government Procurement Reform Act.