GMA News Online |  January 7, 2016

Former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) General Manager Al Vitangcol III broke his silence in the face of the graft complaints filed against him, to the point of accusing the Sandiganbayan as being maneuvered by someone to hasten the court hearings and have him convicted of the charges.

He did not name the supposed manipulator of the anti-graft court.

Vitangcol questioned why he was singled out when 20 government officials were involved in the contract bagged by the Philippine Trains Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams), citing a hold departure order and an arrest warrant against him that was released before Christmas.

The MRT maintenance contract was award to PH Trams and its joint venture Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corp. (CB&T) in October 2012.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who reportedly signed the contract, was not included in the complaints. GMA News Online contacted Abaya for his side, but the Cabinet official did not respond.

Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law and current Pangasinan provincial accountant, Arturo Soriano, was an incorporator of PH Trams.

Since he resigned as MRT general manager, Vitangcol said he received promises of help from the administration. The promise prompted him to keep silent on the issue.

Vitangcol told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday he is confident that he holds sufficient evidence to vindicate himself from the graft complaints against him.
Losing firms

On Thursday, LP chief for political affairs and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice dared Vitangcol to sue Abaya in court if the former MRT-3 official is quite certain that the Cabinet official is responsible for the maintenance contract of the mass rail system.

Vitangcol raised the possibility that other companies which lost in the bidding for the maintenance contract could be behind the cases filed not only against him but also against other MRT and DOTC officials.

Vitangcol said he believes that the current MRT-3 management is not effective because the contractors, instead of engineers, are the ones overseeing the mass rail system.

Part of the problem is delayed payment to the contractors, he said.
The Sandiganbayan last month found probable cause to put Vitangcol and five others on trial for graft and for violating the procurement law.

The cases were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman with the anti-graft court.

The respondents include PH Trams incorporators Wilson De Vera, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo, and Soriano.

Vitangcol resigned from his position in the MRT May last year amid allegations of corruption hounding the MRT-3 management.