By Hannah Torregoza
Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and her brother Ben Tulfo on Tuesday reiterated that the advertising deal between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. was above-board.
Appearing at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the controversy, Teo confirmed that it was President Rodrigo Duterte who requested that DOT utilizes the state-run television network PTV-4 in promoting Philippine tourism.
“For quite sometime, I have kept mum against all the incredible allegations. I have been defamed, maligned and worse, crucified by allegations of corruptions and competence, all made up to look as truth,” Tulfo-Teo said in her opening statement to the panel chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon.
“I maintain that I have diligently fulfilled the mandate as Secretary of the DOT and all programs and activities have been conducted and implemented within the bounds of law. Specifically, the DOT ad placements with PTV-4 had gone through proper channels,” she said.
“To set the record straight this is what happened, on Jan. 16, 2017, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar wrote me a letter asking me to partner with DOT in marketing of Philippine tourism to the PTV television network. This is in line with the request of the Chief Executive to support a government station,” she further said.
“With confidence I can say, that there’s nothing illegal in the said contract,” she said, pointing out that the transaction was a government to government contract within the Executive department and all payments were paid directly to PTV-4.
The Commission on Audit (COA), in 2017, flagged the DOT, then headed by Tulfo-Teo for placing P60-million ad deal with a PTV-4 show that her brother owns and is co-hosted by another brother, Erwin Tulfo.
Ben Tulfo, in his opening statement, also reiterated that the reason why he earlier issued a statement that he won’t return the P60-million is precisely because they believe they entered into a valid contract with the government.
“I appeared here to remove any impression, misconception and suspicion against me…We cannot ask for money from our principal, PTV-4, without any contract and certificate of performance, faithfully delivered,” he said.
He also defended his brother, Erwin, who he insisted had nothing to do with the operations of the Bitag Media.
“It’s unfair that even my brother was included in this controversy, when he has nothing to do with the operations. He was just an obedient talent with Kilos Pronto,” he said.