Trillanes to file plunder raps vs Teo, Tulfo brothers
Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and her brother Ben Tulfo may face plunder charges over the P60-million DOT advertisement controversy.
Facebook/Bitag Live, file

Trillanes to file plunder raps vs Teo, Tulfo brothers

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - July 30, 2018 - 9:24am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Monday that he will file a plunder complaint against former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over a controversial deal to air Department of Tourism ads on their show.

Ben Tulfo earlier insisted that his company, Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI), will not return the P60 million that they received from the DOT to the government.

In a video posted on Bitag's YouTube page July 25, the Tulfo brother said that they have nothing to return to the government.

"Sa mga nagsasabing isauli ang pera at hinihintay daw ang 60-M, mamuti na mga mata niyo! Wala kaming isasauli! Sa mga nagsasabing ilegal at nangulimbat kami, e'di sampahan niyo kami ng kaso, tutal nandyan naman ang COA at Ombudsman!" he said.

(To those saying they are waiting for us to return the P60 million, wait until your eyes turn white! We have nothing to return. To those saying it was illegal and we stole the money, sue us, that's what the Commission on Audit and Ombudsman are for!) 

The supposed plan to return the money was announced by Teo's lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, on May 7. He said the supposed return was meant as a show of good faith.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, Topacio said that he was only following his clients' instructions when he made the announcement.

Resolution filed in May

In a statement released Monday, Trillanes said he plans to file a plunder complaint against the Tulfo siblings over the DOT advertisement controversy.

"I also call on the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to act on my resolution calling for an inquiry into the matter so we could determine the magnitude of corruption, specifically, how much more of the people's money was squandered by the previous DOT leadership," Trillanes said.

In May, Trillanes filed Senate Resolution 726 which calls on the Senate Committee on Tourism to look into the anomalous P60 million advertisement deal between the DOT and BMUI.

In the resolution, the senator noted that Teo approved the contract with her brothers despite the apparent conflict of interest. Ben and Erwin Tulfo co-host "Kilos Pronto", the magazine show on state-run PTV, where the ads were aired.

The resolution also cited the Commission on Audit's report that state-run PTV's 2017 disbursement records for three checks worth P60 million issued to BMUI were anomalous.

"Whereas, no proper documentation was made for the aforementioned payments. [PTV] failed to present any Memorandum of Agreement between them and the BMUI. Without the MOA, there is no basis for the computations of the three payments," the resolution read.

The absence of these documents casts doubt on the legality and validity of the payments of the DOT and PTV.

"Whereas, there is an immediate need to look into the irregularities in the disposition of DOT's budget and its expenditures in advertising and marketing in order to ensure that government funds are legally and properly allocated, directed and spent towards the sole purpose for which funds were allocated," the resolution read.

The resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on the Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, which is also known as the blue ribbon committee.

Teo tendered her resignation on May 8 following a one-on-one meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. 

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