TPB's âBuhay Carinderiaâ on back burner over lack of proper bidding
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat deferred the Buhay Carinderia project after meeting with TPB Board COO Cesar Montano on Wednesday evening.
Sherwin Gatchalian/Twitter
TPB's ‘Buhay Carinderia’ on back burner over lack of proper bidding
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - May 17, 2018 - 2:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — New Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Thursday suspended “Buhay Carinderia Redefined,” a project that the Tourism Promotions Board launched in lieu of the annual Madrid Fusion Manila.

"I will suspend it. I will wait for the [Commission on Audit]," she was quoted as saying in a radio interview with dzBB.

“I cannot continue with the program if there is an anomaly because ['Buhay Carinderia'] had no bidding,” she said in mixed English and Filipino

Puyat deferred the project after meeting with TPB Board COO Cesar Montano on Wednesday evening.

READ: Cesar Montano asked to explain 'rushed' US speech, ‘Buhay Carinderia’

The DOT chief, however, clarified that the board’s practice is to conduct "sponsorships" instead of bidding out projects.

“To be fair to him, in TPB, it’s like that. There is a so-called sponsorship,” Puyat said in mixed English and Filipino.

“To me, maybe, that’s what they really do in TPB but I am not comfortable with it. Even a P1 million (transaction) should have bidding,” she added.

Puyat said she believes Montano acted in good faith.

Implementation of the "Buhay Carinderia" project raised questions  after a report in The STAR claimed Montano issued three checks amounting to P80 million in favor of the organizer and proponent of the event.

“The contract dated  March 15 and notarized March 20 calls for a financial sponsorship of P80 million, plus VAT, to be released in four tranches: P12 million; P28 million; P32 million and P8 million upon completion of certain milestones. But full payment of over P80 million was made between March 19 to April 17,” the report read.

Puyat said payments for government projects should be made after the event. "Buhay Carinderia" was supposed to be held in June this year.

Buhay Carinderia has been staged since 2011 as "Karinderya Fiesta" by Linda Legaspi of marketing agency Marylindbert International. It was redefined as Buhay Carinderia this year to supposedly replace Madrid Fusion Manila 2018.

READ: Madrid ConFusion Manila

Last April, Montano clarified that the board management initially considered the suspension of the international food event until 2019 due to the "non-availability of participating international chefs and exhibitors."

TPB said it might still push through this year.

Puyat said Montano expressed concern on Madrid Fusion failing to promote local products and ingredients but the former Agriculture undersecretary defended the project and said it has been promoting Filipino farm products since. She said Montano would push through with the international food event in September.

READ: Madrid Fusion Manila might still push through, TPB says

The new DOT chief has is determined to only implement projects with proper bidding. In her recent interviews, Puyat repeatedly said she would review all the contracts of the DOT and make sure they went through the process of bidding.

“I said it over and over again, all should have public bidding,” Puyat said.

Puyat said she has already asked the Commission on Audit's central office to look into all DOT projects to avoid implementing potentially anomalous projects.

"I think it is better if an independent body will decide," she said in Filipino.

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
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