MRT-3 maintenance servicers belie Czechs

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2014 - 12:00am

“We hope this letter be given appropriate attention and response from you, to prevent us from proceeding with the filing of charges within five (5) days from receipt.”

Thus did lawyer of Global-APT joint venture, Marlo dela Cruz, and Manolo Maralit end two letters to me, sent to The STAR offices, where I hardly go. It’s been a year since their names started appearing in news reports in connection with MRT-3. Now lawyer sets five days’ action.

I’m so shaking in my booties.

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A journalist’s duty to air all sides is too serious to leave to lawyer. Dela Cruz and Maralit react to being mentioned in Gotcha, 26 May 2014 (“MRT-3 chief gave P517-million contract to uncle-in-law,”, specifically:

“Czech Amb. Josef Rychtar has accused Vitangcol and de Vera of attempting to extort $30 million from Czech train maker Inekon. Having supplied the original trains, the firm was angling to refit and retain the MRT-3 system. Corroborated by Inekon chairman Josef Husek, the squeeze play allegedly happened in Makati on July 9, 2012, and Quezon City the next day.

“After dinner with de Vera, and certain Marlo dela Cruz and Manolo Maralit, the party retired to Rychtar’s residence, without Vitangcol. There, de Vera allegedly demanded $30 million, which Husek rejected. De Vera stood up twice supposedly to confer by mobile with Vitangcol, then lowered the demand to $2.5 million — rebuffed too.

“The next day at his office in de Vera’s presence, Vitangcol allegedly re-stipulated the $2.5 million to the Czechs. He also purportedly required Inekon to partner, 60:40, with an uncle’s company. The Czechs refused.

“The money supposedly was so Inekon could proceed to negotiate to supply new trains and refurbish existing ones. The forced partnership was for it to maintain the trains and tracks.

“Dela Cruz and Maralit a month later would become incorporators-directors of PH Trams. The Czechs said Maralit at first was Inekon’s adviser.”

Lawyer says: “Mr. dela Cruz was never present in any of those meetings mentioned, and Mr. Maralit was never an adviser to Inekon. Messrs. Maralit and dela Cruz have no knowledge or participation in the alleged extortion attempt and for this purpose, they have submitted affidavits to the NBI.”

Obviously I quoted from oft-reported sworn affidavits of the Czechs. The NBI all this time has refused to release to the press dela Cruz and Maralit’s affidavits.

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Lawyer’s other letter, for Global-APT, reacts to Gotcha, 28 May 2014 (“MRT-3 a disaster waiting to happen,”

“Your allegations and conclusions, unless refuted, caused not only apprehension and alarm from the riding public but damage to the name and reputation of Global-APT. Hence, this be given appropriate publication for the public to get the other side of the story, otherwise we will be constrained file appropriate charges to protect our client’s interests. By way of official response, Global-APT sent DOTC a letter dated 4 June 2014 refuting each and every allegation conclusion, copy attached for your reference, which will also serve as our response.”

Lawyer refers to a four-pager to Usec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, in which Global-APT assures DOTC of readiness to explain my report of non-maintenance. The long and short of it is to complain about official documents landing on my lap, to wit:

“We find the column ‘very alarming’ as it cited information claimed by the writer as sourced from MRT-3 maintenance records, which are ‘confidential,’ unless disclosed with the written permission of DOTC and the maintenance provider. Mr. Bondoc avers that he received the confidential information from a ‘transport department official.’

“Global-APT is fully aware of its obligations under Clause 14 of the Contract to keep information such as these confidential, hence to hear from Mr. Bondoc that such information came from ‘insiders’ is of grave concern. We feel that this warrants further investigation by your good office to identify the ‘transport department official’ who is the source for Mr. Bondoc’s column.”

Hmm, note that lawyer did not give Lotilla five (5) days to investigate.

At any rate, I’m not bound by their Clause 14. As an investigative journalist I do not sign non-disclosures, for my job precisely is to expose perceived wrongs. My investigations usually start with official documents. If I shun confidential papers, then how would I have quoted Mrs. Clarita Garcia detailing her husband AFP comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia’s plundering? How would I have uncovered the NBN-ZTE’s $329-million price tag, of which $200 million was “tong-pats”? How would I have seen the 2013 election’s unfinished precinct count and national canvass by the Hocus-PCOS, to cite but a few exposés?

Lawyer thinks all that is wrong? So sue me.

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Why are men and women so different? Because, according to Hollywood playwright Rob Becker, they took different evolutionary paths. The caveman was a hunter, self-trained to focus on pursuit of the prey, the thrill and the kill — exemplified in today’s male preoccupation with quick sex and long TV. The cavewoman was a food gatherer, wandering about in groups to study colors, shapes and textures, pick out the right and ripe ones, and put them in the basket — which evolved into today’s ... shopping.

Joel Trinidad expounds on this in “Defending the Caveman,” presented by Theater Mogul and Upstart. With over eight million tickets sold in more than 30 languages, the one-actor hit runs at the Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City: June 13-22, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m.

For tickets, call (02) 2150788 or (0917) 5378313, TicketWorld (02) 8919999, or visit To sponsor staging in other venues or cities, e-mail

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook:, or The STAR website



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