Press Release
January 9, 2016


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero is urging former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol to reveal the details of the $1.5-million contract awarded for the commuter train's maintenance in October 2012, which became the basis of the graft case filed against him.

Barely a month after the Sandiganbayan affirmed his indictment for graft, Vitangcol broke his silence last Wednesday to lament what he regarded as apparent haste in resolving the case against him. He insisted it was actually the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) that awarded the contract.

It was earlier reported that the controversial MRT maintenance deal with Philippine Trams Rail Management Service Corp. (PH Trams) was "perfected" at a time when the DOTC was headed by Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas. The Office of the Ombudsman had also cleared incumbent DOTC chief Joseph Emilio Abaya of any liability in connection with the deal because he was appointed just two days earlier when he signed the contract.

Escudero said the former MRT chief should reveal the "extent of the culpability of other DOTC officials in the anomalous contract that they have left Vitangcol high and dry to claim responsibility for deal."

"Mr. Vitangcol should not be afraid to speak up. Why sacrifice yourself, your career, your life, your family name when you know that there were others behind this questionable deal? He should come clean and reveal everything he knows," Escudero said.

Vitangcol had earlier said that he was being made a "sacrificial lamb" and was being made to answer for the anomalies in the 10-month MRT 3 maintenance contract that was awarded to PH Trams, whose directors included Vitangcol's uncle-in-law.

The Ombudsman had originally named 20 DOTC officials involved in the deal but eventually charged only Vitangcol for the anomaly, exonerating, among others, Abaya.

Vitangcol cried foul and said that he was just being singled out. He also said that an "emissary" had promised to help him with the graft case but he has now been "dropped like a hot potato."

The emissary, he said, had gone to his lawyer and gave the assurance that he would be getting help from the latter's principals. "If you wanted help, we're just here. Don't worry because the case would eventually be dismissed in a matter of time," Vitangcol's lawyer quoted the emissary as saying.

According to Escudero, "there could be no one else who could wield such power and influence above Vitangcol with possible links to the maintenance contract than Roxas and Abaya."

Vitangcol's revelation came on the same day that President Aquino renewed his confidence on Abaya whom he said will stay on as DOTC Secretary till the end of his term in June.

"Whoever his benefactors were, they're now long gone. And the longer that Mr. Vitangcol decides that he should pin them down, the longer the time and chance he gives them to cover their tracks. Mr. Vitangcol should blow the whistle on them now," Escudero said.

He also reminded Vitangcol how whistle-blowers were effective in "uncovering ugly truths about the previous administration and even led to the impeachment of a Supreme Court Chief Justice."

"That's why Vitangcol has nothing to worry about or fear for. The whistle-blower system is now well-entrenched, recognized and protected so he can be assured of his and his family's well- being," Escudero pointed out.

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