Ombudsman indicts Vitangcol, 5 others over MRT3 maintenance deal

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales directed the filing of Informations against Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) ex-General Manager Al Vitangcol III and five incorporators of Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation (PH Trams) for violations of Sections 3(e) and 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 65(c)(1) of the Government Procurement Reform Act, arising from the MRT3 interim maintenance contract.

In a 39-page Resolution, Ombudsman Morales found probable cause that Vitangcol, Wilson De Vera, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law, Arturo Soriano, presently the Provincial Accountant of Pangasinan, conspired to irregularly award the MRT3 contract to the PH Trams-CB&T joint venture.

The Resolution held that Vitangcol used his power and authority as general manager/ chief end-user, head of the negotiating team, member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), all in one, “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of the maintenance services and “intentionally hid his [affinitive] relationship with Soriano, which would have automatically disqualified PH Trams.”

The Resolution also ruled that the PH Trams incorporators were equally held liable for executing a false Affidavit of Disclosure dated 12 August 2012 stating that none of the incorporators are related by affinity with any member of the procurement teams. It found unavailing Soriano’s claim that he divested his interest on 10 September 2012, as such waiver was not recorded in the Securities and Exchange Commission and runs contrary to Soriano’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) declaring that he obtained an interest as a stockholder of PH Trams in November 2012.

Antecedents show that a maintenance agreement was entered into in December 1997 between MRT Corporation (MRTC) and Sumitomo Corporation for the safe and proper operations of the trains, including the provision for labor and supervision. The original maintenance agreement between MRTC and Sumitomo expired on 21 June 2010 and had undergone four extensions from June 2010 until October 2012. Fifteen days prior to the expiration of the last extension, the BAC adopted a resolution to undertake the procurement of an interim maintenance provider for six months and negotiate its terms and conditions. The Negotiating Team recommended that the project be awarded to PH Trams - CB&T joint venture in the amount of US$1.15 million monthly. On October 20, 2012, the project was awarded to PH Trams - CB&T and was renewed three times until 04 September 2013.

Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, while Section 3(h) prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.

Meanwhile, Section 65(c)(1) of R.A. 9184 punishes the act of “submit[ting] eligibility requirements of whatever kind and nature that contain false information or falsified documents calculated to influence the outcome of the eligibility screening process or conceal such information in the eligibility requirements when the information will lead to a declaration of ineligibility from participating in public bidding.”

Source: Office of the Ombudsman