Vitangcol wants to challenge evidence in MRT3 maintenance case

Published November 10, 2018, 12:01 PM

by AJ Siytangco


By Czarina Nicole Ong

Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 general manager Al Sanchez Vitangcol III wants to challenge the prosecution’s evidence regarding his MRT3 maintenance contract case before the Sandiganbayan Third Division.

MB FILE—Sacked MRT general manager Al Vitangcol speaks during a hearing of the House committee on good government and public accountability on the alleged extortion attempt, at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, May 27, 2014. Vitangcol dismissed as lies Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar's allegation that top MRT officials tried to extort $30 million from the Czech company Inekon Group in exchange for the contract to supply 48 trains for the MRT 3 expansion. (Mark Balmores) MANILA BULLETIN
Al Vitangcol (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

Vitangcol was earlier charged with violations of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of Republic Act

3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act for being partial to PH Trams and CB and T Joint Venture in the awarding of the MRT3 maintenance contract in October 2012.

He did not disclose that Pangasinan provincial accountant Arturo Vallo Soriano, one of the directors of PH Trams, is actually his wife’s uncle.

Vitangcol filed a motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence, which is an act contesting that the evidence offered in the case is insufficient. If the court gives its permission, Vitangcol is free to file his demurrer and challenge the evidence. Once granted by the court, his case would be dropped.

On the other hand, if the court denies him permission, then Vitangcol can still file his demurrer. However, doing so would mean he is waiving his right to present evidence.

In his motion, Vitangcol said the prosecution “miserably failed” to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He argued that the prosecution witnesses gave testimonies that are more favorable to him than the prosecution, since they only identified official documents coming from the records of the Department of Transportation.

Vitangcol said in his motion this “proves only the existence of such documents but have no evidentiary value against the herein accused.” He did not go into detail about their testimonies, and said he would rather discuss these in detail in his demurrer to evidence.

Vitangcol also said it is a mere “theory” from the part of the prosecution that he conspired with others and gave unwarranted benefit to PH Trams, since they made no effort to infuse their claims with “credibility or plausibility.”

He said the Sandiganbayan should reject the prosecution’s conspiracy theory since it is “repugnant to common sense and experience.”

“What is more glaring is that herein accused was proved to be a mere end-user representative, not the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE), and was not clothed with the authority to decide on his own relative to procurement matters subject of the instant case,” the motion added.

Meanwhile, Vitangcol is also facing two counts in violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, before the Sixth Division.

From July 9 to 10, 2012, Vitangcol and his middleman, Wilson Tigno De Vera, reportedly requested from the Czech company, Inekon Group, the amount of $30 million “in exchange for the selection of Inekon as the supplier” of the Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) under Lot 1 of the MRT3 Capacity Expansion Project.

Vitangcol coursed the demand through De Vera on the eve of July 9, 2012 at the residence of Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar in Forbes Park, Makati City.

De Vera was talking to Vitangcol over the phone as the latter met with Inekon representatives. Because Inekon officials refused Vitangcol’s offer, the extortion amount was reduced to $2.5 million. However, Inekon did not give in.