Sandiganbayan clears ex-MRT3 GM

THE Sandiganbayan has dismissed the two graft cases filed against former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) General Manager Al Vitangcol III in connection with the controversy surrounding the MRT-3 maintenance contract.

The Sixth Division, in granting Vitangcol’s demurrer to evidence, said the cases were dismissed due to the prosecution panel’s failure to present evidence  against the former MRT3 head.

A demurrer is a motion seeking the outright dismissal of a case on the ground of weak evidence.

Vitangcol and five incorporators of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) were charged with violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Reports said that one of the incorporators of PH Trams was the uncle-in-law of Vitangcol.

The charges stemmed from the alleged anomalous awarding of the MRT maintenance contract to PH Trams and its joint venture Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (CB&T) in October 2012 under an emergency bidding.

Under the contract, MRT-3 was obliged to pay PH Trams-CB&T $1.15 million a month for the MRT-3’s maintenance.

In filing the case, the prosecution team said the affidavits from former Czech ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar and Inekon board chairman Josef Husek proved that Vitangcol and his co-accused “were working towards getting the MRT3 maintenance contract from Inekon Group.”

The prosecution said the joint venture with Inekon failed to push through, but PH Trams still bagged the maintenance contract with Vitangcol as head of the negotiating team.