Vitangcol's uncle ready to face probe

By Eva Visperas and Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 29 2014 03:32 AM | Updated as of May 29 2014 11:32 AM

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines - The uncle-in-law of resigned Metro Rail Transit 3 general manager Al Vitangcol III said yesterday he is ready to face the House committee on good government that is looking into the questionable P517-million maintenance contract of MRT 3.

PH Trams, which had won a hefty contract for the maintenance of MRT 3, reportedly claimed connections with Czech firm Inekon to enter into a partnership with a bigger company.

Arturo Soriano, chief accountant of the Pangasinan provincial government, said he had divested his shares from PH Trams and resigned as one of its incorporators even before the deal was awarded to the company.

“I have sold my shares in the company and was no longer connected with it when the bidding was made,” Soriano told The STAR. “I am willing to go to the House inquiry. I have no problem with that. I have nothing to hide.”

Soriano said it is not right to insinuate that PH Trams bagged the contract due to his relationship with Vitangcol.

Since he was then the administrative chief of the Pangasinan provincial hospital and Vitangcol the husband of his niece, Soriano said he resigned from the company when it joined the bidding for a government contract.

The House panel is also looking into extortion allegations made by outgoing Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar against Vitangcol.

The MRT chief was forced to resign after Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya relieved him of his post on Monday following reports that the awarding of the P517-million contract was tainted with irregularity.

European connections

An official of Comm Builders & Tech (CB&T), partner of PH Trams as maintenance contractor of MRT 3, said he was convinced by PH Trams of its European connections after it managed to bring in people from French firm Bombardier that was the original supplier of MRT’s signaling system.

Roehl Bacar, president of CB&T Philippines, said it was his company that actually bagged the maintenance contract from October 2012 to August 2013.

Bacar said CB&T had won the contract fair and square after it submitted the lowest bid to the Department of Transportation and Communications Bids and Awards Committee (DOTC-BAC).

“We were the lowest bidder and the BAC minutes will prove that the sole purpose of PH Trams was to source out spare parts from the Czech firm Inekon to keep the MRT running,” he said.

PH Trams was formed only in August 2012, two months before it was awarded the maintenance contract.

“The joint venture would only be formed if the MRT contract is acquired by PH Trams. The BAC agreed and gave PH Trams three days to get a business permit,” Bacar explained.

He said Wilson de Vera and Manolo Maralit, incorporators of PH Trams, assured him that the Inekon Group could supply the spare parts for MRT trains.

Inekon had bought out the original Czech supplier of the trams for MRT 3.

The Czech ambassador and Inekon officials had earlier accused Vitangcol’s group of trying to extort $30 million to clinch the deal to supply 52 new MRT coaches.

Vitangcol’s group reportedly wanted the Czechs to partner with PH Trams.

Bacar said it seemed to him that Rychtar had “close ties” with De Vera and Maralit.

According to him, Rychtar was even a guest during the birthday celebration of Maralit in his Las Piñas City residence on Nov. 30, 2012.

He said Rychtar had assured him that he would help the group of De Vera and Maralit source out the train spare parts from Inekon.

However, Bacar said PH Trams failed to deliver on its role of getting the train spare parts supply from the Czech firm.

“By January 2013, or as early as December 2012, I considered them out of the consortium because they were not able to supply the spare parts,” he said.