Sep 072014
Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco on Sunday said that the administration’s allies in Congress are reluctant to continue the probe on an alleged $30 million extortion attempt connected to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) expansion project because they are fearful it would open a “can of worms” that could implicate ranking leaders of the Liberal Party (LP).

Tiangco, who is also United Nationalist Alliance Secretary General, said in a statement that the frequent breakdown of the MRT-3 is the end result of the “bigger web of machinations” involving high-ranking LP officers.

“[It’s linked] to the corruption scandal exposed by the former Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar which the LP and its allies in Congress are trying to cover up,” he said.

In 2013, Rychtar accused then-MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol of trying to extort $30 million from Czech firm Inekon in exchange for a contract to supply 48 new trains for the MRT expansion project.

The P3.8-billion contract for 48 new MRT coaches was eventually awarded to CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. of China.

Vitangcol has denied the allegation but was sacked by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya last May for his questionable awarding of the P517-million contract for the maintenance of the MRT-3 expansion project to PH Trams, a company in which his uncle by marriage is an incorporator.

The House committee on good government and public accountability has yet to wrap up its probe on the alleged extortion attempt.

Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, who chairs the panel, said that another hearing will be held regarding the controversy within the month.

“We are about to wrap up the investigation. [We’re just] waiting for some documents that had been requested by some members. [After that], we will have a final meeting before drafting the final report,” he said in a text message.

‘Fell on deaf ears’

Tiangco challenged LP members and administration allies in the House to continue their investigation on Rychtar’s allegations to prove they are serious about promoting good governance.

“Kung talagang habol ng administrasyon at ng LP ang malinis na pamamahala, hamon namin panagutin ang mga nakinabang sa MRT kahit ng mga kapartido at kaalyado pa sila… Ang tanong dito ay kung bakit hindi na pinag-uusapan kung anong nangyari doon sa $30 million na kotong na hinihingi ni dating GM Al Vitangcol sa Inekon? We already raised that issue and concern, but all fell on deaf ears, or nobody has the guts to dig deeper into the MRT fiasco,” he said.

The opposition stalwart noted that businessman Wilson de Vera, an LP member who previously ran as mayor in Calasiao, Pangasinan, was accused by Rychtar of asking $30 million from Inekon on Vitangcol’s behalf.

“The cover-up is being done at the expense of the daily suffering and safety of the commuting public. Di bale nang magdusa at malagay sa panganib ang buhay ng mga pasahero, mapagtakpan lang ang anomalya ng mga kakampi ng Administrasyon,” Tiangco said.

De Vera has denied the Czech ambassador’s allegations and even dared the diplomat to take a polygraph test. Xianne Arcangel/BM, GMA News

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