By Hannah Torregoza
Broadcast journalist Ben Tulfo on Tuesday stood pat on his belief there was no conflict of interest at all in the controversial advertisement deal between the Peoples Television Network Inc. (PTNI) and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Tulfo, chief executive officer of Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI) a blocktimer in the state-run television network, declared as such during the Senate blue ribbon committee’s hearing on the issue, before it wrapped up its probe for the plenary session.
Tulfo also maintained he will not return any money because he has done nothing wrong and returning the money is tantamount to saying that they did something illegal.
“Wala ho sa isip ko na magsasauli kasi wala po akong ginawang illegal. Sa amin po, paninindigan namin yun kontrata…legal po ito. Wala po kaming ginawang illegal,” Tulfo said in response to Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ questioning.
“Let me just state the fact, wala hong conflict of interest ho para sa amin, kasi una sa lahat, wala ho kaming kontrata sa DOT,” Tulfo told Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee during its probe into the controversy.
“We do the right thing. Kami ho sa Bitag Media. Ganun ho ang aming standard eh—integrity, transparency, honesty—so hindi ko ho maintindihan kung anong siningit ni Sen. (Risa) Hontiveros na para sabihin na you do the right thing. Parang may mali sa ginawa namin,” Tulfo further said.
The TV host also lamented how they are portrayed in the media that they committed conspiracy when in fact, they have no close relationship with each other.
“Ang relasyon ho namin ay hindi close, FYI…Parang langis at tubig, hindi kami pwedeng ihalo,” Tulfo said.
Even his sister, ex-DOT chief Wanda Teo-Tulfo also categorically said “no” when asked by Hontiveros if the P60-million paid by the DOT to her brother’s media production company should be returned to the government.
Gordon however told the siblings that it would be the courts that will decide whether or not the transaction between the DOT and PTV-4 was illegal.
“My point here is your definition of conflict of interest will be elucidated or will have to be enhanced when you go…or wherever this case is going,” Gordon said.
Gordon, likewise, defended Hontiveros for pointing out the question: “That is her opinion, and she is entitled to her opinion that’s why she has the right to say what is on her mind.”
“There’s no point in arguing whether there is conflict of interest or not. I will just go by the facts,” Gordon stressed.