MANILA, Philippines – Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo has broken her silence on the blind item alleging that she asked for two pairs of designer shoes and 150 tickets for a musical from a big shopping mall.
Facing the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, December 7, A Teacher Representative Julieta Cortuna asked Teo: “There is a blind item that it seems you are using your power or position. We are giving you a chance to ventilate the issue.”
Cortuna, member of the CA committee on tourism and development, said all Cabinet secretaries should be in “good standing” to lead their agencies.
Teo denied she was the subject of the blind item. In fact, she said, she only found out about the issue through her brother, Ramon Tulfo.
“It is not me. Honestly, I can face you all. I am not aware of this and definitely, it is not me in the Department of Tourism," she said.
To address the issue, Teo said she has already started a probe into the controversy.
“So now I am conducting an investigation. I would like to know who is using my name. I will get to the bottom of this and if somebody is involved, heads will roll,” Teo said.
The tourism chief found allies in some CA members. After more than an hour of questioning, the panel recommended Teo’s confirmation.
Senator Miguel Zubiri, a known ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, publicly declared his support for Teo. Zubiri is not a member of the CA panel but is a member of the whole commission.
He vouched for Teo, saying she belongs to a “good” and “hardworking” family from Mindanao. Zubiri added Teo is of “good moral character.”
“She has my full trust. I know she’ll be doing a good job, knowing their family very well and how dedicated they are in making change happen for the country,” Zubiri said.
Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Mayo Almario downplayed the accusations against Teo, saying it is unlikely for her to do that as she supposedly comes from a family of “disciplinarians.”
Almario attributed the issue to other people who may be eyeing the tourism portfolio.
“It doesn’t make sense for such issue to be true, concerning only shoes and tickets. It’s almost as clear as light of day. There are also people who would want to be in her position. That might be one of the reasons why issues like these exist,” Almario said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com