DOT bans gate passes to withdraw Duty Free goods

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has banned its officials from withdrawing goods from Duty Free Philippines, Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced Monday.

She said she ordered for the removal of gate passes, which allow officials to go to Duty Free and withdraw or claim goods.

"The Board and I approved the removal of the gate passes completely," Romulo-Puyat told CNN Philippines' The Source. "Nobody can have that anymore."

This comes after former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo was called out by the Commission on Audit (COA) for the withdrawal of about ₱2.5 million in luxury items.

Teo maintained that the goods were taken in place of cash remittance. Duty Free is required to remit 50 percent of its annual net profit to the Tourism Department.

The DOT is now working on guidelines on how to use Duty Free profits, Romulo-Puyat added.

DOT to bid out media buying agencies for ads

The Tourism Department also faces another issue, as Teo is under hot water for a multi-million advertisement deal with state network PTV-4. The money for the commercials went to the block-timer show Kilos Pronto, hosted by her brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

Romulo-Puyat said that the DOT will now tap a media buying agency so she can keep her hands off operations.

"We will be bidding out media buying agency so that media buying agency will be the ones to decide on where to put the commercials," she said. "They will know what are the topraters, what's bagay [a good fit] for the DOT... and therefore I have no more discretion."

She also said that the department was working with the COA to strengthen their internal auditing system.

Romulo-Puyat, who attended the Senate hearing on the ad deals, vowed to cooperate with the COA and the Ombudsman in getting to the bottom of the issue.