MANILA, Feb 19 (Mabuhay) — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday denied there is already a report on the investigation on the alleged $30-million extortion claim against Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol III.
At the same time, De Lima told reporters that she would be ordering the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is looking into the allegation, to probe the “leak” of the alleged report to the media.
“[There is] no such report yet. It has not even reached [NBI director Virgilio] Mendez yet, more so, the secretary of Justice,” De Lima said.
“I already directed Director Mendez to investigate who the source of that information is,” she added.
The alleged leaked report, which came out in the broadsheet Philippine Star, claimed that Vitangcol was cleared from possible charges for lack of evidence, and that claims that Vitangcol demanded money from Inekon was not corroborated.
The NBI earlier stepped in to investigate the incident upon instructions from President Benigno Aquino III.
Last year, officials from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) were reported to have allegedly asked Czech firm Inekon executives for $30 million if they wanted to get the contract to supply trains for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3).
The firm was reportedly blacklisted from the bidding after it refused to pay the government officials $30 million, a claim denied earlier by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Earlier reports said Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar claimed Vitangcol and other officials tried to extort $30 million from Inekon Group in order for them to land a contract to supply 48 new trains for the MRT expansion.
The alleged extortion attempt took place when now Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II still headed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Amid the allegations, Vitangcol went on leave. He reportedly talked to current DOTC secretary Jose Emilio Abaya before going on leave.
Abaya said Vitangcol denied the allegations during their talk. (MNS)