Commuters to Ombudsman: Probe DOTC, not just Vitangcol

26 Jun

A network of commuters of the MRT and LRT train systems said today that investigating former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol III and businessman Wilson de Vera in relation to an attempt to extort $30 million from a Czech train coach maker is not enough and that officials of the Department of Transportation and Communication should also be investigated. 

The Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES) Network made the statement as it claimed that DOTC officials compose the Bids and Awards Committee responsible for the contracts pertaining to the train systems’ operations.

“Vitangcol could not have tried to extort such a huge sum from a foreign company without the backing of higher-ups in the DOTC and possibly in Malacañang. The Ombudsman should not turn a blind eye to this obvious fact and should investigate DOTC officials at the very least,” said Sammy Malunes, RILES Network spokesperson.

The group also said that the fact that Vitangcol awarded without public bidding an $11.5-million maintenance contract for MRT 3 to the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation or PH Trams shows that he may be supported by officials of the DOTC and possibly those in higher positions.

“It is clear to us that the Ombudsman acted belatedly on this issue. It was merely forced by protests and revelations about Vitangcol’s crimes while he was MRT general manager. Now that it will conduct an investigation, the Ombudsman must include everyone responsible,” Malunes added, echoing the slogan “Lahat ng sangkot, dapat managot” of the June 12 anti-pork barrel protests.  

The group’s spokesperson also said that DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya refused to act on initial allegations that Vitangcol was involved in an attempt to extort a bribe from Czech company Inekon Group.

“DOTC Sec. Abaya should also be investigated for refusing to investigate the first allegations against Vitangcol. He may be guilty of trying to cover up Vitangcol’s crimes until these were further exposed and became difficult to hide from the public’s view,” Malunes said.

The RILES Network called on the public to be vigilant towards the Ombudsman’s investigation into Vitangcol and De Vera’s crimes, as this will reflect on Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s promise of good governance or “daang matuwid.”

“We believe that Vitangcol’s crimes show that ‘daang matuwid’ was just an election slogan for this government and does not reflect genuine commitment to eradicating corruption in government. And the rot remains at the top, as they say,” said Malunes. 

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