Former Metro Rail Transit 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol finally broke his silence on the allegedly anomalous award of the MRT 3 maintenance contract to companies favoured by the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
In an affidavit he submitted to the Supreme Court, Vitangcol implicated two former secretaries of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) — Manuel “Mar” Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer in the May 2016 elections, and Joseph Emilio Abaya.
He also tagged DOTC Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Jose Perpetuo Lotilla and Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco
Vitangcol said the four officials “should have been the ones brought to justice for gross and inexcusable inaction if not wilful and deliberate manipulation of the events and processes related to the maintenance of MRT 3.”
He accused Roxas of “deliberate inaction, delay and manipulation in the procurement of a maintenance service provider for MRT 3.”
Vitangcol said the original contract between Sumitomo Corp and Metro Rail Transit Corp (MRTC), which expired on June 21, 2010, was renewed “with the concurrence of DOTC, for four times with the last extension expiring on October 19, 2012.” On November 17, 2010, however, MRTC resolved to transfer the responsibility for the procurement of the technical maintenance service for the MRT 3 to DOTC, he added.
When he assumed the position of general manager on January 2, 2012, Vitangcol said he was alarmed that his superiors were not “abreast with (MRT 3’s) undertakings.”
He claimed that the transportation department was not aware that on November 17, 2010, the MRTC had already transferred to it the responsibility for the procurement of the maintenance provider for MRT 3.
On May 17, 2012 or five months before the expiration of the last contract extension of Sumitomo, Vitangcol decided to write Roxas, asking the secretary “to issue a directive as to which party should undertake the procurement of the new maintenance provider.”
He did not get a reply.
Also on Thursday, Vitangcol asked the High Court to stop the trial of his graft case at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the allegedly anomalous $12mn maintenance deal for the rail system. In his motion for reconsideration, he insisted that Roxas and Abaya be made more accountable than him.
“Petitioner hopes that this disclosure will help the honourable court arrive at a fair and impartial resolution of his motion for reconsideration (MR) and application for a (temporary restraining order) and injunction,” Vitangcol said.
He maintained that he had no financial interest in the $23mn (P535-mn) interim maintenance deal of MRT 3.
Vitangcol claimed that he was singled out by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“I am the only DOTC official charged by the ombudsman despite the unmistakable knowledge, involvement, participation and instruction of my superiors in the DOTC headed by former Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, current Secretary Joseph Emilio ‘Jun’ Abaya, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Jose Perpetuo Lotilla and Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco, who should have been the ones brought to justice for gross and inexcusable inaction if not willful and deliberate manipulation of the events and processes related to the maintenance of MRT 3,” he pointed out.
Vitangcol also claimed that on December 10, 1997, the MRTC entered into a maintenance agreement with Sumitomo Corp as maintenance provider.The agreement expired on June 21, 2010 and the contract was extended four times, the last expired on October 19, 2012.
In 2010, the MRTC decided to transfer to DOTC “the responsibility for the procurement of technical maintenance for the MRT 3.”
At a Rail Sector meeting on April 23, 2012, Vitangcol said Limcaoco “impressed” upon the attendees that the procurement of a new maintenance provider must be made by the MRTC.
“I decided to ask then DOTC Secretary (Roxas) about this on May 17, 2012 or five months prior to the expiration of the last contract extension of Sumitomo. I wrote to Secretary Roxas asking how to issue a directive as to which party should undertake the procurement of the new maintenance provider…Then secretary Roxas disregarded my letter as it was unanswered,” Vitangcol said.
In July 2012, he presented to Roxas his “unacted letter” as well as Bids and Awards Committee hairman Lotilla’s memorandum that ‘there is no more time for DOTC to publicly bid out the procurement of a new maintenance provider and award the same by October 19, 2012” and that “responsibility should be returned to the MRTC for it can procure in shorter period of time.”
Roxas did not act on the request. When Abaya assumed his DOTC post, he signed and issued the Notice of Award, dated October 18, 2012, to PH Trams-CB&T JV.
Vitangcol said the contract was by him and Lotilla and approved by Abaya.
“The contract would not have a binding effect without the signatures of Lotilla and Abaya,” he added.
“If there is anyone who should be accountable to the people and to the law, it is no other than Roxas, Abaya, Lotilla and Limcaoco whose repeated inaction and purposeful deferment delayed the procurement for long-term MRT 3 maintenance agreement, which paved the way for a series of short-term agreements, on a negotiated basis, and extensions thereof for personal/and or political gains,” Vitangcol said in his motion.
On the involvement of Arturo Soriano, the uncle of Vitangcol’s wife and one of PH Trams’ incorporators, the former MRT 3 general manager argued that Soriano executed a Deed of Assignment on September 10, 2012 assigning and selling all of his shares to the chairman of the company.
Hence, he said, there was no conflict of interest in his dealings with his uncle-in-law.
In September last year, Vitangcol filed a petition with the High Court seeking the dismissal of the graft complaint filed against him.
The court junked the petition.
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