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Ben Tulfo claims ex-SSS official 'leaked' report on COA website
Broadcaster Ben Tulfo and Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, his sister, have been named in a deal that the Commission on Audit.
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Ben Tulfo claims ex-SSS official 'leaked' report on COA website

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - April 30, 2018 - 2:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — Broadcaster Ben Tulfo claimed a former Social Security System official is being behind the supposed leak of a Commission on Audit report questioning a contract involving his media outfit.

In a Facebook live post which aired on Sunday evening but was deleted Monday afternoon, Tulfo said he received information that a sacked official reappointed to the Department of Tourism talked with the members of the press to release an expose against his sister, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.  He said the official wants to replace Teo at the department.

The supposedly leaked COA report was actually posted on the commission's website as it usually does with its reports and has been doing for years. Philstar.com and other media outlets managed to download copies of the report but the COA website has been down since Monday morning.

The broadcaster refused to name the official he deemed an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, but his descriptions point to Tourism Undersecretary Jose Gabriel "Pompee" La Viña. He said the official is an expert in social media, was reappointed last week, and was previously fired from the SSS.

The president signed the reappointment papers of La Viña last April 24. La Viña was also the social media director during the Duterte presidential campaign.

READ: Palace: No need to justify La Viña's appointment to DOT

‘Tulfo siblings were collateral damage’

 “So, you want to be a DOT secretary, huh?” Ben said in the deleted post.

"You are the operator behind the demolition against Teo. You made us collateral damage, I, Ben, and my brother Erwin, to the yellow media," he added. Operator is slang for someone who "operates" or runs a behind-the-scenes PR campaign.

Ben said the expose was the COA report that mentioned the state-run Philippine People’s Television Network, Inc., DOT, and his company, Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc, a block-timer of PTV-4.

COA report on its website

COA last Friday posted its report questioning PTNI’s P60.01 million payment to Ben’s BMUI on its website.

The report said the network and the DOT entered into a Memorandum of Agreement for the latter's purchase of advertisement airtime with daily magazine news-type program Kilos Pronto. Kilos Pronto is run by BMUI and is hosted by Ben, his brother, Erwin and broadcaster Alex Santos.

The state auditors said the transaction was not supported by required documents.

PTNI, however, said it has submitted the documents and had clarified with the commission at an exit conference between COA and PTNI. At exit conferences, auditors submit their findings, which agencies are given an opportunity to address.

No conflict of interest in deal

Meanwhile, both Ben and Teo cleared their names in the ad placement issue saying PTNI should be held accountable because it chose BMUI’s “Kilos Pronto” to carry the DOT advertisements.

Ben said his company is only accountable with PTNI and does not have anything to do with its client, the Department of Tourism.

“There is no no legal basis [for us] to deal with them (DOT) directly because we only deal with PTV,” he said adding that the transaction is "above board".

Ben added that their show, which aired on PTV-4's 5 p.m to 6 p.m. timeslot in 2017,  has high ratings that’s why it was chosen to carry the advertisements. 

He also said that the transaction with PTNI is backed by signed documents.

Teo also said there is no conflict of interest in her department’s deal with PTNI. She reiterated that the network was free to choose the program which would carry the department's ads.

In a statement, the DOT stressed that an ad placement is a normal transaction between the DOT and a television network because it is part of the marketing operations to promote Philippine tourism sites to both domestic and international tourists.

The DOT said it preferred PTNI in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for government agencies to support the government television network.

“Similar ad placements were made by the DOT with other private television networks and media agencies, both domestic and international, such as BBC, MediaCorp, FOX, CBS, Discovery Channel, ABS-CBN, and  GMA-7 And CNN Philippines,” the DOT said.

BEN TULFO DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM PTV4 WANDA CORAZON TEO
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