MANILA (UPDATE) - Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief Cesar Montano will be summoned to explain why he allegedly paid P80 million in full for the "Buhay Carinderia" project, one of the government's food tourism programs, even if the event has yet to be completed.
Philippine Star columnist Boo Chanco earlier alleged in an article that Montano paid P80 million in full to a certain Linda Legaspi to mount an event that will feature Filipino street food and local eateries.
Under standard practice, the government must pay in tranches. The last disbursement must be made after the completion of the project.
"I want to know what is the budget, what he (Montano) plans to do. I have to ask whoever the organizer is, did it go through proper bidding?" Romulo-Puyat said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
"I have to look at all the contracts even the ones existing because I'll be implementing all these programs. If I find out there's a contract that did not undergo bidding, I will have to cancel," she said.
Legaspi meanwhile belied Chanco's allegations, saying these have no basis.
"It's all baseless. I will disprove the allegations once I arrive in Manila this week," she said.
Romulo-Puyat said Montano will also have to clarify allegations that he attended an official speaking engagement in the United States, but told the audience that he would have to leave earlier to catch a Broadway show.
"I have to ask Cesar himself what happened. Did you really just talk for two minutes? I believe there are 2 sides to the story. I'm sure he has the proper explanation," she said.
Montano is on a hold-over capacity as his term as TPB chief has already expired, but it will be up to tourism stakeholders if his tenure will be extended, Puyat said.
"Under the Tourism Act of 2009, it is the Tourism Congress of the Philippines that elects a chair. The law says it is the private sector who will elect the members of the TPB, so to me, it's nothing personal. Whoever they elect, I will follow," she said.
CASES VS TEO
Romulo-Puyat replaced Wanda Teo as DOT secretary earlier this month after the former tourism chief figured in a P60 million advertisement scandal.
The new DOT chief said she is not keen on going after her predecessor and other tourism officials who were involved in granting of P60 million in advertising funds to a show produced and hosted by Teo's brothers.
"It's like a witch hunt. With me, I just want to work, move on," Puyat said.
"I'll just leave it up to the COA (Commission on Audit) and the Ombudsman because they are the proper agencies to handle this," she said.
-with a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News