Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo today denied any conflict of interest in the PHP60 million-worth (US$1.1 million) of tourism ad placements on a TV show produced and hosted by her brothers.
On Friday, the Commission on Audit (COA) released its 2017 report on the government-run People’s Television Network, Incorporated (PTNI).
The COA reported that PHP60 million was paid to the PTV-4 show Kilos Pronto produced by “blocktimer” Bitag Media Unlimited, Incorporated, a company owned by Teo’s brother Ben Tulfo.
Ben and their other brother Erwin Tulfo, both supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, co-host the show with presenter Alex Santos.
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According to ABS-CBN News, Bitag was paid three times last year: PHP22.09 million (US$426,974.10) in May, PHP18.96 million (US$366,474.83) in November, and PHP18.96 million (US$366,474.83) in December.
The COA reported that the ad placements were not supported by the proper documents.
While talking to reporters earlier today, Teo claimed that there was no conflict of interest in the deal because she supposedly did not know that the ads would be released during his brothers’ show.
“The contract was between PTV-4 and DOT because the president requested we support the government station,” she said in Filipino. “I had no say on whether or not they would place the ad with my brother. There is no conflict of interest because at the end of the day, the contract was between PTV-4 and DOT.”
Teo blamed the controversy on possible bad blood from those affected by her brothers’ negative commentary on some politicians and Erwin’s high ranking in a survey of top 2019 senatorial contenders, as well as people opposed to the six-month Boracay shutdown proposed by the DOT.
“When Boracay was closed, I knew it was coming. In fact, I had death threats, but I kept quiet. Many were hit by Boracay’s closure,” she said.
Earlier today, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has ordered an investigation into the DOT ad placement.
“I assure you, the Palace will investigate the matter. We have to accept the findings of the COA. The Palace will investigate on its own,” he said.