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Czech envoy wants to move on to new projects

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2014 - 1:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Czech Republic has a new ambassador, and he wants ties with the Philippines to move beyond the recent controversy involving the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).

Welcoming guests to his country’s National Day reception the other night, Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olsa Jr. told The STAR their embassy would continue helping their private companies doing business in the Philippines.

But he said “we want to move on to new projects, more trade and people-to-people exchanges.”

Olsa said trade relations between the Philippines and the Czech Republic remain at a high level despite the alleged $30-million extort try on Czech firm Inekon Group allegedly by MRT officials.

He said several Czech firms are still operating in the country and Czech investments in the Philippines almost tripled in recent years.“There are many Czech companies operating in the Philippines. We’ve no problems,” Olsa told The STAR. “New ones are coming. We’ll see how the situation will be developing.”

Former Czech ambassador Josef Rychtar first revealed to The STAR in July 2013 the supposed $30-million extortion try on Inekon in exchange for the supply of 48 new trains for MRT 3.

MRT general manager Al Vitangcol, the alleged mastermind of the extortion attempt, was sacked by the Department of Transportation and Communications last May amid reports that he had awarded a P517-million maintenance contract to a company controlled by his wife’s uncle.

AL VITANGCOL CZECH CZECH AMBASSADOR JAROSLAV OLSA JR. CZECH REPUBLIC DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS FORMER CZECH INEKON GROUP JOSEF RYCHTAR METRO RAIL TRANSIT NATIONAL DAY
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