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Vitangcol on MRT mess: I’m a sacrificial lamb

MANILA, Philippines - After being offered help for his legal troubles over the Metro Rail Transit 3 maintenance contract, former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol said he now feels abandoned and treated as a “sacrificial lamb” by his former backers.

He said an “emissary” promised to help him with the graft charges he is facing before the Office of the Ombudsman but dropped him like a hot potato at the last minute.

Vitangcol did not say who sent the “emissary,” but claimed he was being singled out by administration presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Roxas had served as DOTC chief before his appointment to the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Vitangcol was his aide when he was a senator.

Vitangcol reiterated the case against him has no legal leg to stand on as he asked the ombudsman to exercise “fairness and justice.”

“I should have been acquitted based on my documentary evidence. I was wrongfully accused,” he told reporters at a media forum in Greenhills the other day. “They (ombudsman) should read and appreciate our evidence.”

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Vitangcol said he was confident at first because his lawyer got an assurance of help for his legal woes.

“If you wanted help, we’re just here. Don’t worry because the case would be eventually dismissed in a matter of time,” Vitangcol’s lawyer quoted the emissary as saying. The promised assistance did not come.

The ombudsman filed graft charges against Vitangcol and 20 officials of the DOTC in connection with allegations of anomalies in the 10-month MRT 3 maintenance contract that was awarded to a company whose directors included Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law.

The charges against the 20 DOTC officials were dropped, leaving Vitangcol as the only official charged.

Vitangcol also questioned the fast-paced deliberation on his case when other bigger cases had lain idle for a long time.

“There is an unseen hand moving all these cases,” Vitangcol stressed, without elaborating.

Vitangcol said he should not be held accountable for the alleged irregularities in the MRT 3 maintenance deal because it was Abaya who was the final approving authority.

“If I was the only one who signed the contract, I will take the accountability,” he said. “But who are the other signatories?” 

The former MRT chief also questioned the ombudsman for excluding other DOTC officials from the case. Abaya, who signed the deal, was excluded by the ombudsman.

“I was surprised that other respondents in the case were all acquitted,” Vitangcol lamented.

 

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