Letter shows PTV-4 proposed tourism ad placements on Tulfo show

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2018 10:28 AM | Updated as of May 03 2018 05:39 PM

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MANILA - (2ND UPDATE) Government media outfit People's Television Network, Inc. proposed that some of the Department of Tourism's advertisements go to the show of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo's brothers, "Kilos Pronto," a letter from PTV-4's airtime management in February 2017 showed. 

The letter, dated February 6, 2017 and addressed to the tourism secretary, said PTV-4 offered its major daily newscasts for DOT's TV spot placements to "maximize your tourism promotion and campaign nationwide." 

The letter included a proposal to place 6-minute DOT segments in the show Kilos Pronto on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. 

"Our seasoned professional independent production outfit can give you 6 minutes segment 3 times a week in their most watched daily program in our network for one year contracts," the letter said. 

A Commission on Audit report has flagged the placement of tourism ads worth P60 million in the show "Kilos Pronto," produced and hosted by Teo's brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo. 

Ferdinand Topacio, Teo's counsel, insisted on Thursday that the tourism secretary did not know that the blocktimer show "Kilos Pronto", produced by Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI), was connected with her brothers, Ben and Erwin. 

"At that time, it was part of the package. She did not know that 'Kilos Pronto' was with her brothers. It was thrown to a committee and I don't know what happened with the committee but eventually it was vetted," he told ANC.

"If there were placements in 'Kilos Pronto,' it was not because they were Tulfos but because it would be advantageous to the ad campaign of DOT," Topacio added, stressing the deal, approved by the department headed by Teo, was done in good faith.

During the ANC interview, Topacio also brought a document showing the proposed project cost was P272 million. Out of the amount, P139 million should have gone to the PTV4 newscast, P63 million to an eco-tourism program, and P69 million to the Tulfos' news magazine show. 

But the actual project cost, he said, was trimmed down to P120 million. The document, however, did not specify how much went to Bitag media. 

Topacio said the burden is on PTV-4 to explain why they chose to put collections from the ad placements to the Tulfo brothers' program. "The optics may not be good but she (Teo) did not deliberately choose her brother’s show," he said.

In a text statement, PTV General Manager Dino Antonio Apolonio said the network presented a program proposal signifying that DOT advertisements and segments "would be placed on shows that will afford DOT maximum exposure and bearing the highest viewership possible."

"Aside from our newscasts and public affairs shows 'Kilos Pronto' is one of the most prominent programs of PTV. Hence it makes sense to include the program in the proposal," he said.

"The proposal was approved by the client as reflected in the signed MOA," he added.

A Commission on Audit (COA) report earlier said the Department of Tourism specifically ordered government station People's Television Network to air tourism ads on "Kilos Pronto."

It said a memorandum of agreement shows the deal between PTV-4 and the DOT required "PTNI to air a 6-minute segment buy in PTVs Daily News-type magazine segment, Kilos Pronto, plus a 3-minute DOT spot within the program."

According to Topacio, PTV-4 itself decided that the collections from the tourism ad placements should go to the Tulfos' Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI). 

He said the government media station decided on placing the ads in Kilos Pronto based on the blocktimer program's ratings. 

"There was no contract between Bitag and DOT. The contract was between DOT and PTV4, and PTV4 and Bitag," he said, claiming that the COA report is "not final yet" as they have yet to produce the proper documents.

The lawyer said it is premature to call for the resignation of Teo because even the COA is still trying to get to the bottom of the issue and whether all the P60 million actually went to the Tulfos' program. 

Disbursement vouchers show tourism ad payment went to BMUI. Screengrab from COA report

Teo earlier said there is no conflict of interest when government funds went to a blocktimer program of her brothers.

"Ang kontrata namin is between DOT and PTV, kasi ang kuwan ng gobyerno tulungan ang government station. That was the mandate of the President, ‘yun ang sinabi sa amin," she said. 

"Kumbaga kung binigay ng PTV sa brother ko, hindi ko na alam ‘yan..."