Tourism dept ordered 'segment buy' on Tulfo brothers' show: COA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2018 12:57 PM | Updated as of May 02 2018 03:54 PM

DOT chief Wanda Teo, Ben Tulfo and Erwin Tulfo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/Victoria Benzema

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Tourism specifically ordered government station People's Television Network to air tourism ads on "Kilos Pronto", a blocktimer program run by DOT chief Wanda Teo's brothers, according to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA). 

This, despite Teo's earlier statement that it was PTV's own decision to place the ads in her brothers' show due to its high ratings. "Wala na akong pakialam kung ilalagay sa [programa ng] kapatid ko," she said. 

In its audit findings, COA noted that there is a memorandum of agreement on file between the tourism department and the government-owned station "specifically requiring 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."

"There were no provisions for the airtime rates per segment/spot and such other terms and conditions of the commercial advertisement specifically as regards the manner of payment," the 2017 COA report showed. 

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Bitag Media Unlimited Incorporated (BMUI), which produces the Tulfo brothers' show "Kilos Pronto", is a blocktimer on the government-owned PTV-4. 

According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, blocktiming is a unique Philippine broadcast media practice of buying "blocks" of airtime to produce programs independent of networks and stations. 

"The blocktimer sells the commercial time to sponsors and/or advertisers," it said.

In its report, COA said disbursement vouchers showed that a P60 million payment was made to the Tulfos' BMUI in 3 tranches dated May 11, 2017; November 8, 2017; and December 15, 2017.

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

Accounting personnel, however, revealed that there was no memorandum of agreement or contract between PTNI and Bitag Media to air the DOT commercials in "Kilos Pronto", the COA report said. 

"Since there was no MOA wherein the terms and conditions are supposed to be spelled out, there was also no basis for the computations on how the said three payments were arrived at," COA said. 

It also said that the first P22 million payment to Bitag Media in May 2017 was "merely a presentation of deductions from the amount remitted by DOT to [People's Television Network]." 

The agreement between the Tourism department and PTV-4 also did not have provisions that require the government media outfit to "remit to Blocktimer BMUI collections from DOT for the segments/spots aired within the program." 

The COA report added that documents to determine actual airing time or airing frequency were not submitted. COA said these papers should have been the basis of evaluation if the deliverables indicated in the contract were complied with. 

COA has asked PTV-4 to submit a copy of its agreement with BMUI, a Certificate of Performance for the airing of tourism ads commercials within the airtime of "Kilos Pronto," billing statements and other relevant documents.

'HINDI KO NA ALAM YAN'

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Tourism Secretary Teo earlier said she was not aware that the amount paid by the agency she heads paid to PTV-4 went to her brothers' program. 

"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 because wala naman kaming…in fact I was even surprised because ang, ano 'to, is between DOT and PTV4," she added. 

In a press briefing in Davao City on Wednesday, Teo also denied allegations that the tourism department is connected to her brothers' BMUI.

"No connection because when we made the contract with PTV-4, it was specified that our contract was only between PTV-4 and DOT Wala pong ibang media house na ini-specify naman doon," she said.

Despite the controversy, Teo maintains there is no conflict of interest that the government funds went to a blocktimer program of her brothers.

She also claimed that she expected a backlash against her following the six-month shutdown of Boracay island and her brother's strong showing in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a probe into the tourism department after the Commission on Audit questioned how P60 million worth of DOT ad placements went into the show of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo's brothers.