By Christian V. Esguerra | Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 27, 2014

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III confirmed on Tuesday that Al Vitangcol III has been fired as Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 general manager for allegedly not disclosing the involvement of a relative in a company that cornered a maintenance contract with the government.

Aquino said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had discovered that Vitangcol “had a relative by affinity involved with a company that got the maintenance contract.”

The President was referring to the P517-million contract cornered by a company put up by Arturo Soriano, the uncle of Vitangcol’s wife, and five others.

“Allegedly, [Vitangcol] didn’t reveal that he had a relative who was an officer of this company to anybody, including the Secretary, including the BAC [Bids and Awards Committee], and he was relieved for that purpose,” he told reporters.

The President downplayed suspicions that Vitangcol—who was earlier accused of trying to extort $30 million from a Czech train company—was close to a member of his inner circle. Vitangcol denied the allegation made by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar.

“Out of curiosity, who in my inner circle is close to Vitangcol?” he asked.

“He looks vaguely familiar but I don’t really know him that well,” he added, saying Vitangcol was one of those who got appointed because he let his secretaries “decide as to whom they want to work with.”