Rosette Adel,  April 14, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III on Thursday submitted before the Sandiganbayan Third Division a very urgent motion for the issuance of a gag order against presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, citing the protection of his rights.

Vitangcol said that as an accused he is compelled to file the very urgent motion against Roxas saying that the Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer’s statements against him are “prejudicial” and “caused irreparable damage” on his part.

“Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that, to avoid prejudicial publicity against herein Accused, presidential candidate Manuel Mar Roxas II, be enjoined by a gag order issued by the Honorable Court to prohibit him from publicly accusing herein Accused of criminal acts covered by the Information,” the motion read.

In his three-page motion, Vitangcol cited incidents when Roxas issued maligning statements against him.

He mentioned a statement by Roxas during the second presidential debate last March 20 at the University of the Philippines Cebu, where the latter alleged that the former MRT chief’s uncle was part of the bidding process for the maintenance of the trains.

Vitangcol also cited a report by Paolo Romero of The Star last April 2 with the headline “Roxas: Vitangcol trying to pass guilt.” It quoted Roxas, the former Transportation Secretary, saying that when he left the Department of Transportation and Communications in 2011, it was Sumitomo company who maintained the system and was the maintenance provider.

The accused claimed Roxas’s statement was not true.

Vitangcol’s legal counsel said Roxas’s statements violate the rule against commenting on cases that are still under judicial consideration as it might sway the magistrates’ decision against the accused.

“The statements are not only false but tend to prejudice the right to accused’s fair trial. These also violate the rule on comments on a case subjudice. Such statements are prejudicial to the accused,” the motion read.

“Public outcry for conviction ignited and fanned by massive publicity in the news media may prompt even the judges to take action calculated to railroad the accused to a conviction,” it stated.

Vitangcol and five other officials of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. faces graft and corruption charges after the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge them last December. He allegedly violated the Anti-Graft Act over the award of an MRT-3 interim maintenance contract without public bidding in 2012.