De Lima: No NBI report yet on MRT extortion case

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 20 2014 03:12 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2014 11:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday denied a report that Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol III has been cleared in the alleged $30-million extortion charge hurled against him by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and railway firm Inekon Group.

De Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has not come out yet with its fact-finding report supposedly clearing Vitangcol in the controversy for lack of evidence.

“There is no such report yet. It has not even reached NBI Director Virgilio Mendez yet, or the secretary of justice,” she told journalists.

De Lima said she was puzzled by a report that came out in yesterday’s issue of The STAR that said Vitangcol was supposedly cleared of the charges. She wanted to find out the motive behind the leakage.

“I have directed Director Mendez to find out the source of that information,” she said.

Citing a DOJ source, The STAR reported the NBI found no sufficient evidence against Vitangcol.

Probers reportedly traced the charges against the MRT chief from a mere “he said, she said” allegation, which was not corroborated by any statement.

“No one corroborated the statement that Vitangcol ordered through a phone call to ask for money,” the source said.

The phone call the source referred to was the one Wilson de Vera allegedly made while he and the Inekon officials were at Rychtar’s residence in Forbes Park, Makati on July 9, 2012.

De Vera was the alleged middleman between Vitangcol and Rychtar.

According to the source, none of the Inekon officials corroborated the claims made by Inekon board chairman Josef Husek in his affidavit to the NBI last October.

None of them was also able to prove that De Vera received orders from Vitangcol over the phone that night, the source said.

The source said Vitangcol was cleared as far as the NBI is concerned, unless a new witness or evidence is found.