Vince F. Nonato | INQUIRER.net | December 1, 2016

State prosecutors have formally charged former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol over his alleged extortion attempt on a Czech firm.

Vitangcol and his supposed go-between, Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (Ph Trams) executive Wilson de Vera, face two counts of violating Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The cases were raffled off on Friday to the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division.

The first charge sheet accused Vitangcol of sending De Vera to demand $30 million from representatives of Inekon Group, a.s., at the house of then Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar in Forbes Park on July 9, 2012.

This was supposedly in exchange for bagging the contracts for the supply of Light Rail Vehicles under Lot 1 of the MRT-3 Capacity Expansion Project.

Prosecutors said that when Inekon's representatives refused "right then and there," De Vera reduced the amount to $2.5 million after speaking with Vitangcol on the phone. Again, the firm refused but the charge sheet said De Vera told Inekon to rethink the offer. On July 10, 2012, Vitangcol himself allegedly repeated the offer during a meeting with Inekon, Rychtar and De Vera at his office.

Prosecutors said Inekon continued to turn down the request and even told Vitangcol and De Vera that the demand was meant to benefit themselves.

In the second charge, Vitangcol was accused of pressuring Inekon to enter into a 60-40 sharing agreement with De Vera's group during the July 10, 2012, meeting.

The proposal was supposedly in connection with the maintenance contract for the MRT-3 line since the deal with Sumitomo Corp. was about to expire. Inekon also turned down the supposed offer.

Rychtar and Inekon board chair Josef Husek are among the prosecution witnesses. Prosecutors recommended that bail be fixed at P60,000 each for Vitangcol and De Vera.