Police remove security escorts of Erwin Tulfo and family after broadcaster threatened to assault gov’t official

Erwin Tulfo campaigning for ACT-CIS party-list group. Photo: Tulfo’s Facebook page.
Erwin Tulfo campaigning for ACT-CIS party-list group. Photo: Tulfo’s Facebook page.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) today confirmed that its decision to remove the police escorts of broadcaster Erwin Tulfo and his family members is related to the recent threats that Tulfo made against Rolando Bautista, a retired army general and current secretary of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD).

PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said today that Erwin’s rants against Bautista played a factor in the removal of his family’s police bodyguards, but it wasn’t the only reason.

“The provision of security — remember, it’s a privilege extended to a person. This is not a right,” Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino. “These privileges can always be revoked anytime. Especially something like [what] happened, that was a factor [in the removal of the escorts] of course. The behavior of the person [influenced our decision]. Although it’s a normal process, it was a factor also. It just wasn’t the main factor [when we removed the police bodyguards].”

Filmore Escobal, chief Brigadier General of the PNP Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG), said that the removal of the family’s police bodyguards was also part of a regular review wherein the department will assess if there’s a need to continue providing security detail to civilians.

“It’s part of the process of the PSPG to regularly review the PSPs or protective security personnel assigned to their specific protectees. The outcome of the review will be the basis on whether we will continue [to provide police bodyguards to them] or not,” Escobal said.

Escobal said that eight police bodyguards were assigned to the Tulfos: two officers for Erwin, two for his brother Ben Tulfo, two for their brother Raffy Tulfo, and two for Raffy’s wife Jocelyn Tulfo, a newly-elected party-list congresswoman. Escobal said the PNP assigned these officers to guard the Tulfos because there were, at the time, credible threats to their lives.

Members of the Tulfo family are known for their tough-talking personas and vocal support of President Rodrigo Duterte. Erwin’s brothers Ramon Tulfo, Raffy, and Ben are also broadcasters, while his sister Wanda Teo was a former secretary of the Tourism Department.

Erwin became embroiled in a controversy last week when he threatened to slap and drown Bautista in a toilet after the latter refused to give him a phone interview for his radio show, Tutok Tulfo. Erwin apologized to Bautista on Friday after he was widely criticized by netizens and members of the army. However, Erwin said that he will not take back anything that he had said against the former general.

The removal of the police escorts was a decision made by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Año said he did it because he wants the PNP to “evaluate the policy and protocol on providing police security to different personalities and reassess its justifications because this is just a privilege and not a right.”

However, it wasn’t just the PNP who temporarily stopped giving bodyguards to the Tulfo brothers. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recalled two Philippine Marines assigned to Ramon because they reportedly wanted to conduct a review, reported Manila Bulletin. 

The Tulfos were also embroiled in a controversy last year when Teo, who was at the time the secretary of tourism, was accused of paying PHP60 million (US$1.146 million) to Kilos Pronto, a show which Erwin co-hosted with Ben, who is also the producer.

Teo denied that there was a conflict of interest in her decision to pay Ben the large sum of money, but she ended up resigning from her post in May 2018. Ben remains adamant that he won’t return the money to the government.

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