Sandy Araneta | Manila Standard | May 24, 2017

The whole story must be told regarding the mess in the Metro Rail Transit 3, and not just rely on the contract signed for the purchase of the trains, former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol said during a forum in Manila on Monday.

Vitangcol is scheduled to speak before a Senate investigation today (May 23, Tuesday) on the MRT mess.

"This will be a chance that the public could be informed and what is the whole truth. We have revealed a lot. All that I would be revealing has basis and documents to prove," said Vitangcol during Monday's Samahang Plaridel, Kapihan sa Manila Hotel.

Vitangcol, however, declined to name who else might be involved in the mess.

"Last year, my affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court constitutes 70 percent of the real story. The 30 percent, I'm still writing about it. But no one read this, even the Supreme Court said that the affidavit I have filed is [just] noted," said Vitangcol.

Vitangcol also said the complaint against him is only a scheme of the past administration.

"The Field Investigation Office of the Ombudsman even said it’s not just Vitangcol who should be charged. But the Ombudsman said it's only Vitangcol and absolved the other former officials of the DoTC All the problems in the MRT started due to the three 'I's', which are Ignorance, Incompetence, and Inefficiency," said Vitangcol.

Vitangcol cited as an example of the anomalies is that all projects, including those in the attached agencies, and all the biddings, were centralized, which caused delays.

When asked to comment regarding former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Vitangcol said: "If he did not make a mistake, his mistake was he became derelict in his duties. He did not conduct inspections or reviews."

"They should review what happened in the past, and not just rely on the contract," said Vitangcol.

Vitangcol said that, in 2010, there were two Philippine government delegations who went to Dalian, China to inspect the facilities.

"I do not know if this was an all-expense paid trip. But the bidding was done only in 2013 and approved in 2014. Why did they go there [that early]?," he said.

When asked if there will should be charges against other higher government officials of the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III, such as former Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, or even officals in Malacañang, Vitangcol said, "usual suspects," all those involved must be charged and investigated.

However, Vitangcol said he doubts other higher officials wil be charged because of the line of questioning made by the Senate committee.

"I doubt that would happen. We saw the line of questioning during the public hearing. They are concentrating on contracts and the things that happened. But as I said, this is huge. They must check on what happened before, before the contract was signed, and what happened after this. If they do not check on what happened in the past, I doubt it," he said.

Vitangcol stressed that "if they check on the past, it might be possible that all the other personalities involved will be dragged into the investigation."

"It might be possible if the line of questioning of the committee is correct. But if they will focus only on the contract itself, they cannot see anything above board," he said.

"They must investigate further from the start. In 2010, there were people who went to Dalian, and bidding was on 2013, awarding was 2014. What is the connection? If I will be asked, we must investigate this furthermore" said Vitangcol.

"In 2015 and 2016, there was an investigation already on MRT issues, but I was not invited. Our story will not be complete if we do not speak. It is still lacking," he said.

"What should be looked into is what is the whole story? Because an incident happens because of a series of events. If you look at the contract only, it’s okay. But our question is, is there a compliance? Is this in accordance with the specifications? And another question is, why three years before the contract was awarded, there were government officials who visted the factory of Dalian? That is what they should investigate. What is the reason? And was this trip paid by Dalian? Or was this paid by the Philippine government? And if the Philippine government paid for the trip to China, why?," he asked.

"I was not yet the general manager of the MRT during that time. In fact, I told Secretary Abaya about this when I was already in the MRT. But no one would talk about it. All those involved must admit that there is a defect, and the defect must be fixed," he said.