MANILA - Resigned MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III confirmed Tuesday that his uncle-in-law was an incorporator of a firm that bagged a multimillion-peso maintenance contract of the MRT. However, he said he told his relative to divest of his shares in the firm since it would violate the law.
Speaking before a House inquiry, Vitangcol confirmed that his uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, was one of six incorporators-directors of PH Trams.
PH Trams and CB&T bagged a P517 million maintenance contract of the MRT-3 in October 2012, while Vitangcol was still GM.
"Yes, it's true pero qualified kong sasagutin yan. Yan po kasing pagkaaalam ko, yung PH Trams ay designed to submit an unsolicited proposal to MRT Corpotation, which is a private corporation, with the intent to get the maintenance contract and replace Sumitomo Corporation," Vitangcol told lawmakers.
The official said the joint venture first filed an unsolicited proposal to MRT Corporation about the maintenance contract. When the MRT Corporation failed to conduct a bidding, the Department of Transportation and Communications took over the bidding process.
He said PH Trams and CB&T again joined the bidding.
Vitangcol said he was "made aware" that Soriano was an incorporator of PH Trams when he received a letter that the joint venture would be making a presentation before MRT Corporation.
He said he then urged his uncle-in-law to leave PH Trams.
"I was made aware that Mr. Soriano was an incorporator but during the time they were doing that for MRT corporation, I was not fully aware that he is involved in that particular project. when I learned of that particular item, then I directly told him that it would be improper both on his part and on my part if he will continue to be a director of PH Trams," he said.
"So he divested and he sold his shares to his fellow director to PH Trams so at that time when the bidding was done by the DOTC, then Mr. Soriano was no longer a part of that particular firm," he added.
Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc earlier wrote that in 2012, Vitangcol had awarded without bidding a P517.5-million contract to PH Trams, a two-month-old company with a paid-up capital of P625,000, for a 10-month maintenance of MRT-3 trains.
He also rejected Vitangcol's claim that Soriano had divested his shares in PH Trams. He said PH Trams was founded in August 2012, or just two months before the company bagged the MRT contract.
"Will somebody divest after two months?" he said in an interview on ANC.
Meanwhile, Vitangcol clarified that he was not fired from his post but was only relieved of duty after the Department of Transportation and Communications started an inquiry into alleged anomalies in MRT-3.
Vitangcol said he was placed under preventive suspension and that an OIC was appointed to take over his place.
"I deemed it best for everybody that I resign. So totoo pareho yun. I was relieved and I resigned," he told congressmen.
Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya confirmed Vitangcol's statement, saying that only President Aquino can remove him from office.
"GM Vitangcol is a presidential apointee so a presidential act is the only thing that can take him out of office," he said.
Abaya said he relieved Vitangcol because the latter failed to declare his relationship to a winning bidder for an MRT contract.