Sandiganbayan assures Vitangcol: Gag order ain’t violated

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The Sandiganbayan has assured its gag order was not violated when news reports have came out concerning the case against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) general manager Al Vitangcol III.

Because of this, the anti-graft court junked for “lack of merit” the motion of Vitangcol who sought to have the prosecution reprimanded over allegations of leaking information to the media.

“Nevertheless, the parties are hereby reminded of the Gag Order dated April 19, 2016, principally directing them to refrain from discussing the merit of these cases and to issue any press releases regarding the same,” the court ruled.

Vitangcol’s motion alleged that the prosecution had leaked information to the media about his filing of a motion seeking leave to file a demurrer to evidence which sought the dismissal of his case due to the alleged weak evidence presented by the prosecution during the trial.

He claimed that the leak of the information was intended to sway public opinion which would lead to his conviction.

“There does not appear to be a clear and specific indication that their sources were from any member of the prosecution panel,” the court said.

“Neither does it show that the information in the Annexes came from the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Clearly, the allegations are by themselves bare and without any evidentiary support,” it added.

Under the graft case, Vitangcol is accused of having conspired with his co-accused in unlawfully favoring the Philippine Trans Rail Management Services Corporation (PH Trams) in securing the interim maintenance contract for MRT3 in 2012.

The contract was awarded even though Vitangcol knew that his uncle-in-law and co-accused, Arturo Soriano, is one of the incorporators of PH Trams.