Netizens hail sacking of Vitangcol

By Patrick Quintos,

Posted at May 28 2014 11:33 AM | Updated as of May 28 2014 07:38 PM

MANILA - Commuters are hoping that the operations of the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) will improve after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) sacked its general manager, Al Vitangcol III.

Vitangcol was relieved following allegations that he awarded a P517-million maintenance contract to a relative in 2012.

On Tuesday, TV Patrol asked on Facebook and Twitter, "Magkakaroon kaya ng magandang pagbabago sa MRT sa pagkakatanggal kay Al Vitangcol?"

While social media users who responded to the question welcomed the sacking of Vitangcol, majority of them said it was not enough and it still depends on who will replace him as MRT general manager.

Light Rail Transit (LRT) General Manager Honorito Chaneco was assigned as officer-in-charge (OIC) while investigations into the allegations on Vitangcol are ongoing. A lot of netizens also think that aside from its personnel and leadership, reforms in the transport system should be implemented.

With Vitangcol's removal, a lot of social media users are expecting that the MRT-3 will finally be able to implement measures to allow it to add new trains, and ease long queues in its stations.

Some netizens said that sacking Vitangcol would mean nothing unless the former MRT-3 general manager is punished, if he is found guilty.

Others also suggested that MRT-3 should also look into alternative solutions to improve its system and coordinate with other sectors to ease congestion in its stations, especially during rush hour.

Commuters group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (Riles) Network earlier said that removing Vitangcol is not enough, adding he should be punished for the alleged large-scale corruption and mismanagement in the MRT-3 system.

The group fears the firing of Vitangcol was to protect him of any accountability in the alleged extortion attempt of Czech firm Inekon for the supply of MRT coaches.

"Vitangcol should also be held accountable for failing to solve the train system's major problems. The priority he gave to the MRT's contract with big capitalists for the train system's maintenance has made every train ride a hell for us commuters," the group said.

On Monday, The Philippine Star reported that Vitangcol, in his capacity as MRT-3 general manager, awarded a P517-million maintenance contract to a joint venture of PH Trams and CB&T in October 2012.

Arturo Soriano, the uncle of Vitangcol's wife, is one of six incorporator-directors of PH Trams.

Vitangcol was also accused by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar of trying to extort $30 million from Czech company Inekon Group in exchange for a contract to supply new coaches for the MRT.

However, in an interview on ANC, he denied all allegations against him, and said Soriano divested from PH Trams before the awarding of the contract.