MANILA- Senator Antonio Trillanes IV faced off with the Tulfo siblings on Tuesday during a legislative inquiry into the P60-million placement of tourism ads on the siblings' television show.
During the inquiry, Trillanes urged former Tourism Chief Wanda Teo and her brothers, broadcasters Ben and Erwin, to tell the truth as he warned them of possible plunder charges.
This, after Teo claimed that she did not know that her brother, Ben was involved in the show "Kilos Pronto" where the tourism ads were aired.
"Kung ako sa inyo mag-iba na kayo ng legal defense dahil alam niyo po sa buong Pilipinas na nanonood sa inyo. Hindi kayo (Teo) paniniwalaan na hindi niyo alam na napunta 'yan sa kapatid niyo," Trillanes said.
The senator then asked Ben how much he received from the advertising deal. The latter said he still has to check his records.
"Swak na swak kumbaga pasok na pasok kayo sa bitag, diba Mr. Tulfo?" Trillanes said.
(It fits perfectly into the trap, right Mr. Tulfo?)
Teo and her brothers came under public scrutiny earlier this year after state auditors flagged P60-million of tourism ad placements into state television blocktimer "Kilos Pronto" which is hosted by Ben and Erwin.
The Commission on Audit said the deal posed possible conflict of interest.
Earlier in the hearing, Ben confronted Trillanes for supposedly tagging his family as thieves during a media interview about the former's refusal to return the ad money.
"He (Trillanes) said, 'Kaya hindi isinasauli dahil ninakaw na e.' Ang paghuhusga mo nakasira nang husto sa amin. Look me in the eye now, say to my face," said Tulfo.
(He said, 'The money will not be returned because it has been stolen.' Your pronouncement has maligned us.)
He also said he has no intention of returning the P60 million because Bitag Media had already fulfilled the contract and aired the tourism ads.
Returning the P60 million, he said, is "tantamount to saying that we did something illegal."
"Wala ho sa isip ko magsasauli (ng P60 million) kasi wala akong ginawang ilegal," he said.
He said it was Teo's former lawyer Ferdinand Topacio who urged the Tulfos to return the money "out of goodwill."
Trillanes also chastised the younger Tulfo, Erwin, for supposedly washing his hands of the controversy.
This, after Erwin explained that he is not an employee of his brother Ben's Bitag Media but is simply a talent.
"Ngayon kasi 'yung paghuhugas ng kamay maliwanag na parang di ka sangkot dito. Kapatid ka ni Secretary Teo at hindi ka ordinaryong empleyado ng Bitag, magkakapatid kayo," the senator said.
Erwin, however, dared Trillanes to prove first that they committed plunder.
"Patunayan mo muna na may plunder, bossing. It's not for you to decide. It's for the court to decide," he said.
(Prove first that there is plunder.)
"Ano naman ho kinalaman ko sa pondo na 'yan ng DOT? Eh besides nung dumating ako sa programa na 'yan nagsimula na 'yang advertisement na 'yan," he added.
(What is my involvement in the funds of the DOT? Besides, when I arrived at that program, that advertisement has already begun.)
The younger Tulfo, however, maintained that their family will face any charges that will be thrown against them
"Haharapin ho natin 'yan. Hindi naman ho kami umaatras," he said.
(We will face those. We do not back down.)