Ex-tourism chief claims ‘nothing illegal’ in PTV deal

Former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo denied all corruption allegations hurled at her regarding the 60 million-peso advertisement deal with PTV4 at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, August 14. 

“With confidence, I can say that there’s nothing illegal in the said contract,” Tulfo-Teo said.

The former tourism secretary testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that the accusations against her were only meant to discredit her. 

“I have been defamed, maligned and worse, crucified by allegations of corruptions and competence, all made up to look as truth,” Tulfo-Teo said.

In a report from the Inquirer, Teo said that she did not comment on any of the slanderous criticisms. 

“For quite some time, I have kept mum against all the incredible allegations,” she added. 

During the hearing, the former tourism chief reiterated she was unaware that the show “Kilos Pronto” with the PTV-4 was produced by Ben Tulfo and co-hosted by Erwin Tulfo.

She claimed that the transactions involving her brothers’ government television program were valid.

“It’s a government to government contract within the executive department and all payments were paid directly to PTV-4,” Teo pointed out.

The Commission on Audit earlier reported that DOT placed the deal in 2017, however it lacks documents validating its legality. 

During the hearing, Teo said “no” when Senator Risa Hontiveros asked if she personally believed that the money spent on the ad deal must be returned. 

She stated that it might be difficult to return the money because it was already distributed to pay for the people who worked on the advertisement. However, she said that the decision would be on Ben Tulfo and PTV4’s terms. 

“But at the end the day, it’s still PTV-4 and my brother that will decide kung ibabalik ang pera kasi ang bayad naman po namin ay sa PTV-4 (if they are going to return the money because we paid to PTV-4),” she said.

Gordon: Graft, but not plunder

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon believed that the Tulfo siblings might be charged with graft. He noted the conflict of interest evident in the said deal. 

“Dapat nahagip nila na (They should have seen that) there was (a) clear conflict of interest,” Gordon said.

Gordon also doubted the possibility of plunder charges since the money was used for advertising. 

“I don’t think you can make a case for plunder,” the senator said. 

He also recognized that it was a “business” transaction in nature. However, he did not disregard the siblings’ family connection. 

“Nag negosyo sila, yun ang masama e. Yung negosyo mukhang nabigyan ng ayuda yung negosyo ng kapatid (They have a business. That business received a boost from the sibling),” Gordon pointed out.

The senator also emphasized that the siblings’ prominence. He also stated that it could be grounds for corruption. 

“The Tulfos are not exactly invisible, they are very prominent so dapat nakita nila agad yun (they should have immediately seen that) and they should have protected themselves from that. That’s graft and corruption,” Gordon added.

The committee chairman refused to believe Tulfo-Teo’s claim that she was unaware of the program. He said that they would still be held liable even if they return the money. 

However, Ben Tulfo is firm in his resolve that he would not return the money as he insisted there was nothing illegal about the contract.

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