Wanda Tulfo-Teo: 'Nothing illegal' in Tourism ad placements on PTV, Bitag Media

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) — Resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo on Tuesday maintained there was no conflict of interest when her department placed advertisements on state-run television PTV-4 and her brothers' show, insisting all deals were aboveboard.

"With confidence, I can say there was nothing illegal in the contract. It was paid to PTV-4. It was a government-to-government contract... DOT ad placement with PTV-4 had gone through proper channels " she told senators during the probe on the ad controversy.

Teo and her siblings, Ben and Erwin, attended the first hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the DOT-PTV-4 transaction to clear their names.

"I have kept mum on all the incredible allegations. I was defamed, maligned, and worst crucified by allegations of corruptions and incompetence," Teo said.

Kilos Pronto host Ben Tulfo added, "I am here to uphold the truth."

The Commission on Audit (COA) found that of the P120-million DOT-PTV contract, P89 million was supposed to go to PTV blocktimer Kilos Pronto, a news magazine show produced by Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc. owned by Ben Tulfo and hosted by Ben, brother Erwin, and broadcaster Alex Santos.

"The memorandum of agreement between DOT and PTV showed a possible conflict of interest between DOT and PTV, considering that as per approved media plan, P89.878M or 75% of the contract cost will be paid to Kilos Pronto, which is under the company owned by DOT Secretary's brother," COA representative Norma Aquino said.

DOT was not able to pay in full because of the controversy. PTV said DOT under Teo paid P95 million in four tranches, missing the fifth and final payment. Of the amount, PTV paid Bitag Media P71.6 million. The remaining P19.8 million is PTV's revenue.

But Teo maintained she was unaware Kilos Pronto — which was specifically named in the memorandum of agreement between DOT and PTV — was hosted by her brothers.

"Hindi ko alam na si Ben Tulfo ay nasa Kilos Pronto. Alam ko lang nasa Bitag siya. Have I known it, I wouldn't have signed the contract," Teo said.

Gordon insisted ignorance is not an excuse.

Amid allegations of conflict of interest in the deal, Teo and PTV-4 President Dino Apolonio pointed fingers as to who made the decision to place millions worth of ads on the Tulfo brothers' show. Apolonio said it was in the initial MOA presented by DOT, but Teo said it was PTV-4 that suggested the inclusion of Kilos Pronto in the contract — which PTV admitted to.

Aside from the ad deal, the Senate panel is also looking into other controversial issues involving DOT, such as the Buhay Carinderia program involving Tourism Promotions Board formerly chaired by Cesar Montano and the Duty Free transactions previously flagged by COA.