MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will have the final say on whether Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo stays in her post or not, the chief executive’s spokesman said Monday.
This, following the decision of a media outfit connected to the Tulfo brothers to return the P60 million it had received for ad placements from the Teo-headed tourism department. Critics have described the ad placements as a clear case of conflict of interest.
Teo is now in hot water after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the lack of a memorandum of agreement for the P60-million fee the DOT that went to Bitag Media Unlimited Inc, headed by her brother Ben Tulfo, for ad placements on its show “Kilos Pronto.”
The show, aired on state-run PTV-4, is hosted by brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo.
The tourism chief’s legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said the Tulfos had decided to return the money “to show their good faith and their good will.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said the recent development will have no bearing on the President’s decision whether to fire the tourism chief or not.
“It's up to the President. The issue is, ‘Is Wanda staying or not ?’ Only the President can decide that kahit ano pa ang gawin nila (whatever they do),” Roque said.
“Ang issue lang naman (The only issue) as far as the President is concerned is whether or not Teo is staying and all these will have no impact on the decision of the President. Whether or not the Ombudsman will charge them, that’s up to the Ombudsman. That’s beyond the power of the President.”
In its audit findings, COA noted that there was a memorandum of agreement on file between the DOT and the government-owned station "specifically requiring PTNI (People’s Television Network Inc.) to air a 6-minute segment buy in PTV's Daily News-type magazine segment, Kilos Pronto, plus a 3-minute DOT spot within the program."
But "[t]here 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.
Aside from the absence of proper documents to back the ad placements, critics have also described the transaction as a clear case of conflict of interest.