By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Third Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution seeking to allow Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar to testify in the case against former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 General Manager Al Sanchez Vitangcol III.
The anti-graft court earlier denied the prosecution’s request to have Rychtar testify via video conferencing at the Philippine Embassy in Chile, since doing so would prejudice the accused.
Appealing the Third Division’s ruling, the prosecution insisted on Rychtar’s testimony “in the interest of substantial justice.” But the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to establish the need for Rychtar’stestimony.
“It is thus clear that the proposed testimony of Ambassador Rychtar is immaterial to the present cases. To be sure, these cases do not involve any alleged extortion by the accused on the Inekon Group,” the resolution read. “With the aforesaid disposition, the resolution of all the other issues by the accused is rendered unnecessary.”
Vitangcol is charged for violating Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act for allegedly being partial to PH Trams and CB and T Joint Venture in the awarding of the MRT3 maintenance contract back in October 2012.
He did not disclose that Pangasinan provincial accountant Arturo Vallo Soriano, one of the directors of PH Trams, is his wife’s uncle.
Vitangcol’s co-accused are Soriano and other PH Trams incorporators Wilson de Vera, Marlodela Cruz, ManoloMaralit, and Federico Remo.
Aside from this, Vitangcol is also facing two graft charges before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division for reportedly trying to extort $30 million from a Czech company in connection with the supply of Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) contract.
In this case, the Sixth Division granted the prosecution’s motion and allowed Rychtar and businessman Josef Husek of Inekon Group to testify against Vitangcol.
This is because “the prosecution has shown the necessity of allowing Amb. Rychtar and Mr. Husek to testify via video conferencing.”
This video conferencing with Rychtar will be held on August 31, 2018 at 8:30 a.m., while Husek’s video testimony will be held on September 7, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.