Czech firm interested in P3.2-B MRT-3 maintenance project
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Controversial Czech firm Inekon is interested in the P3.2-billion maintenance service the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is procuring through public bidding for Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, the rail line along EDSA.

DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla told a hearing of the House committee on good government yesterday that Musa Inekon Ltd. was one of the five firms that bought bid documents for the three-year MRT-3 maintenance service contract.

Lotilla, however, said all five mysteriously did not submit their bids, resulting in a bidding failure.

He said Musa Inekon is a “subsidiary or affiliate” of the Czech firm that has accused former MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol and other transportation officials of allegedly trying to extort $30 million from it in connection with the procurement of 48 new train coaches for the EDSA rail line.

It was Inekon that supplied the original trains that are now frequently breaking down.

Lotilla, who chairs the DOTC bids and awards committee (BAC), said the bidding rules and the Procurement Law do not require companies that bought bid documents to explain why they failed to submit their bids.

Nor do they mandate the BAC to seek the interested bidders’ explanation, he said.

However, the law and the rules provide that a company that buys bid documents three times but does not submit bids could be disqualified for being a nuisance bidder, he said.

Lotilla added that due to the bidding failure, the current maintenance provider, APT Global, would continue to be engaged for P57 million a month on a monthly contract basis.

Responding to questions, Lotilla said PH Trams and its partner, Comm Builders and Technology Corp. (CB&T), were not among the five firms that expressed interest in the P3.2-billion MRT-3 maintenance contract.

A joint venture between PH Trams and CB&T was MRT-3’s maintenance provider in 2012. At the time the joint venture won the contract worth more than P500 million, PH Trams was just a two-month-old corporation with a paid-up capital of less than P1 million.

It later turned out that one of PH Trams’ incorporators, Arturo Soriano, was an uncle of Vitangcol’s wife. The other incorporators were individuals implicated in the alleged Inekon extortion controversy by then Czech Ambassador Josef Rycthar.

The Office of the Ombudsman has launched an inquiry into the alleged extortion and the 2012 awarding of the MRT-3 maintenance contract to PH Trams and CB&T.

Lotilla said they have not blacklisted the two companies because the matter of whether Soriano is indeed related to Vitangcol is a “prejudicial issue” that is now covered by the ombudsman’s inquiry.

The National Bureau of Investigation has recommended Vitangcol’s investigation in connection with Rycthar’s accusations.

AL VITANGCOL ARTURO SORIANO COMM BUILDERS AND TECHNOLOGY CORP CONTROVERSIAL CZECH CZECH AMBASSADOR JOSEF RYCTHAR DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS INEKON LOTILLA METRO RAIL TRANSIT VITANGCOL
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