Patricia Lourdes Viray ,  April 19, 2016

MANILA, Philippines — Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Tuesday issued a gag order against all five presidential candidates in connection with the case filed against former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) General Manager Al Vitangcol III.

Vitangcol earlier asked the Sandiganbayan Third Division to issue a gag order against Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II following his remarks about the former MRT official during the second presidential debate in Cebu City.

The former MRT official cited that Roxas' statements against him were "prejudicial" and "caused irreparable damage" on his part.

Granting the motion of Vitangcol, the anti-graft court issued a gag order against Roxas, as well as Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Grace Poe.

The five presidential aspirants are prohibited from discussing the cases of Vitangcol before the media.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier found probable cause to file graft charges against Vitangcol and Wilson de Vera for a multi-million peso extort try.

Vitangcol is facing two counts of graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for attempting to extort $30 million from a Czech company which supplied rail vehicles and for insisting on the company to enter into a joint venture for the MRT-maintenance project.

On December 2015, the Ombudsman filed graft and corruption charges against Vitangcol and five other officials of the Philippine Trans Management and Services Corp. over the award of an MRT-3 maintenance contract without public bidding in 2012.