Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo wants us to believe that she did nothing wrong when her department shelled out P60 million in taxpayers’ money to government TV station PTV in the form of tourism ads.
Her gang of brothers wants us to believe that they could scare critics into silence by using their bang-bang skills in media to divert attention away from this questionable contract that benefited a company that one of them owns. (READ: Tulfo brothers go after other media outfits, colleagues)
Here is what the Department of Tourism-PTV-Bitag Media Unlimited, Incorporated controversy has unmasked despite the squid tactics employed by the Tulfos to confuse us all:
- Ben Tulfo, one of Teo’s broadcaster-brothers, bagged a deal as a block timer to air his own TV show on government station PTV. A block-timer, in this case Tulfo’s Bitag Media Unlimited, Incorporated (BMUI), pays a station for the time slot given to it. The station has no obligation to sell ads for that block-timer. It’s up to the block-timer to sell as many ads as he could – to recoup what he had paid the station for that time slot, and earn on top of that.
- Here is where things turned murky. In 2017, it was PTV that brokered ads for its own block-timer. It went out of its way to ask the Department of Tourism (DOT) to support Tulfo’s show titled Kilos Pronto. It’s an unusual arrangement, to say the least, especially since the support involved government funds of P60 million from a department run by Tulfo’s sister.
- Unless it felt compelled to do so, why did PTV actively seek ad support for a block-timer?
- Unless she was granting him a favor, why did Teo approve a contract that specifically required PTV to air tourism ads on her brother’s show?
- Unless it’s hiding something, why did PTV not submit to state auditors its own agreement with Tulfo’s company that would have spelled out details of when and how those tourism ads were aired, if indeed they were aired? And why did PTV allow itself to serve as a broker, without broker’s fees (at least none in what it submitted to the Commission on Audit), of a huge ad contract for a block-timer?
- Unless it didn’t care about how taxpayers’ money ought to be spent, why did the DOT advertise in a station that has rock-bottom viewer ratings?
Teo has completely washed her hands off the contract, insisting that she didn’t know the money was going to her brother. Seriously? Assuming she’s telling the truth, ignorance is no excuse – whether in court or in the court of public opinion.
And if she knew basic ethics in government, she should have readily denounced and disowned the contract, even if belatedly.
It is incestuous, made worse by the fact that while she distances herself from her brother’s business deals, she’s very much tied to them in real life – whether in her decision to hire a former make-up artist at another TV station where her brother Erwin works, or in her declarations in interviews that, no, Erwin is not considering a Senate run. (READ: Erwin Tulfo pulls a surprise in survey)
The conflict of interest situation here is as clear as the Tulfo boys’ oral gyrations on their shows. If she does not see that, Teo has no business staying a minute longer in government.
This is not even the first controversy to hit the inexperienced tourism boss.
A few months ago, she was accused of bringing a coterie of DOT personnel on overseas trips, courtesy of a private shipping line, which gave her department free seats. That she doesn’t know freebies constitute gifts – disallowed by the civil code for public servants – again shows her lack of understanding of the requirements of the job and the demands of public service.
To protect her in the ad scandal, Teo’s brothers have been on a rampage, acting as usual like they’re above the law and sniping at everyone who is raising valid questions about this deal.
What better proof do we need that the contract stinks in the first place? – Rappler.com