Ex-MRT GM enters ‘not guilty’ plea in USD30-M extortion case

MANILA, Aug 2 -- Former Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III on Wednesday entered a "not guilty" plea to the graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with his alleged USD30-million extortion attempt from the representatives of Czech company Inekon in 2012.

The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has earlier charged Vitangcol with two counts of violation of Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" involving the transactions they allegedly tried to seal with Inekon.

Vitangcol's co-accused in the case is businessman Wilson De Vera.

The case arose when Vitangcol allegedly attempted to extort money from the Czech company for the supply of additional light rail vehicles (LRV) and maintenance of the MRT under the PHP3.7-billion MRT-3 expansion project in 2012.

The contract for the LRVs was later awarded to CNR Dalian of China, while the maintenance deal was awarded to PH Trams after Inekon denied the extortion attempt.

Aside from the alleged extort try, Vitangcol was also accused of pressuring the Inekon representatives into entering into a joint venture agreement (JVT) with his alleged "envoy" De Vera for the contract.

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division had earlier dismissed the motion to quash filed by the former MRT executive to drop the charges against him.

Source: Philippine News Agency