Teo, Tulfo brothers insist nothing illegal in advertising deal

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Facing the Senate blue ribbon committee, former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and her brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo denied allegations that the P60-million DOT advertisement placement in a show hosted by the Tulfos was anomalous.

In her opening statement, the former Tourism secretary claimed that she was "defamed, maligned and worse crucified" by allegations of corruption and incompetence.

"I maintain that I have diligently fulfilled the mandate as secretary of the Department of Tourism. All programs and activities have been conducted and implemented within the bounds of law," Teo told the Senate panel.

Teo stressed that the department's advertisement placement with government broadcast network PTV went through proper channels.

The former Tourism secretary narrated how Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar sent her a letter in January 2017 asking her to partner with the DOT on marketing Philippine tourism through PTV.

PTV is under the supervision of the Andanar-led PCOO.

DOT staff reviewed the proposal, which went to the Bids and Awards Commitee, which was later on approved.

"There was nothing illegal in the said contract. The transaction was between DOT and PTV-4. It is a government-to-government contract within the executive department and all payments were paid directly to PTV-4," Teo said.

'Allegations sensationalized by media'

Listing her accomplishments as Tourism chief, Teo claimed that allegations against her were only sensationalized by the media.

"Indeed, it is disheartening to know that after accomplishments of DOT under my helm has been overshadowed by the overblown allegations," she said.

Also blaming the media, Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc. CEO and founder Ben Tulfo said he was willing to answer all questions to clear their family's name.

The elder Tulfo brother insisted that they have faithfully delivered on their contractual obligation with PTV and that they have a certificate of performance and a contract, which the Commission on Audit was looking for when it released its report on the DOT.

"I am here to uphold the truth," the elder Tulfo said.

The Bitag Media CEO also insisted that his younger brother Erwin was not involved in the issue.

Erwin Tulfo only a talent

"If my brother had any faults, it was that he was obedient. He was only ordered to sit down on 'Kilos Pronto'," the elder Tulfo said in Filipino, referring to the show where the advertisement palcements were made.

Echoing his elder brother's statement, Erwin reiterated that he was not part of the decision-making process in Bitag.

"I am not a part of this. I am a talent of Bitag but I am not a regular employee or producer, which the media claims," the younger Tulfo said.

RELATED: Ben Tulfo claims ex-SSS official 'leaked' report on COA website

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 14, 2018 - 11:53am

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo insists that there is no conflict of interest in her department's advertisement placement deal with state-run People's Television Network, Inc.

At a press briefing, Teo reiterates that the questioned agreement is between the Department of Tourism and PTNI. She explains that the network is at liberty to choose which program would carry the agency's advertisement.

Earlier, the Commission on Audit released a report revealing that PTNI issued P60.01 million worth of checks to Ben Tulfo's media outfit Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc. for it to carry DOT ads. Tulfo is one of Teo's brothers.

August 14, 2018 - 11:53am

Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. show "Kilos Pronto" is not among the top ranked shows of state-run People's Television Network, prompting Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, to question the decision to place Department of Tourism ads on the show.

"'Kilos Pronto' is Top 83. If you remove all those other shows, number 37 lang ang Kilos Pronto," Gordon says, noting the PTV show with the highest rating is the one showing lotto results. 

The show is produced by the media firm of former Tourism Secretary Teo's brother Ben Tulfo.

During the Senate hearing, Tourism Undersecretary Katherine De Castro said DOT would have saved money by advertising on PTV-4.

August 14, 2018 - 10:39am

In a statement at a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Tuesday, August 14, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says she and her department will cooperate with the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman on the questioned advertising deal between the Tourism department and state-run People's Television Network.

"If and when required by the ombudsman, I will cooperate... [and] require the DOT bureaucracy to give full cooperation," she tells senators.

She says the scandal has brought to light the need for reforms in the department and that the DOT has rationalized its guidelines on sponsorships and on official travel.

"We remain open to any suggestions for reforms," she says.

May 9, 2018 - 12:20pm

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV files a resolution urging the Senate Committee on Tourism to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the anomalous P60 million advertisement deal of the Department of Tourism with state-run Philippine Television Network Inc.

The tourism ads were aired on "Kilos Pronto," a show produced by Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. which is owned by Ben Tulfo, the brother of resigned tourism chief Wanda Tulfo-Teo.

May 8, 2018 - 2:20pm

Sen. Sonny Trillanes says the resignation of Secretary Teo "only confirms allegations of corruption against her."

"Regardless, the Senate investigation must push through because we must know the extent of corruption at the DOT under her watch," Trillanes is quoted by dzBB as saying.

May 8, 2018 - 12:20pm

Malacañang announces the resignation of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo after earlier denials that President Duterte asked her to step down.

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