MANILATourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Monday clarified that there is "no conflict of interest" in the Department of Tourism (DOT) commercials aired on her brother's program, saying the advertisement deal was a "government-to-government contract" that went through bidding.
"We issued the check when the deliverables were met," she told reporters in a press conference in Makati.
"All checks were made in favor of PTV4. No check went to any other production house," she said.
Teo explained that the DOT's mandate is to promote Philippine tourist destinations both locally and internationally.
Among others, President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself instructed the DOT to support government stations, which was the reason the state-run PTV 4 or the People's Television Network, Inc. (PTNI) was selected as a partner, she added.
The Commission on Audit earlier questioned PTNI's disbursement record, which showed three checks were issued to Ben Tulfo's media outfit, Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc. for the PHP60.01-million worth of DOT commercials in 2017.
"The contract was between PTV 4 and DOT, because the request of the President is that we support the government stations," Teo said.
She denied there was a conflict of interest on her part, noting that the ads placement is under the discretion of PTNI.
"Because the contract was between PTV 4 and DOT, I don't have a hand if they put it on my brother's program. So there's no conflict of interest because at the end of the day, the contract was between PTV 4 and DOT," she pointed out.
At the presser, Teo bared that other media outfits were also commissioned to air DOT commercials.
"We have with ABS-CBN at around PHP23 million, and GMA included. We also have TV commercials and features. (There are) CNN Philippines at PHP20 million, CNN International at PHP51 million and Discovery Channel at PHP51 million, and BBC at PHP51 million," she said.
In 2017, Teo said they also spent for tourism promotions in the United States, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and other markets.
Aside from death threats that she is getting after the national government's move to temporarily close and rehabilitate world-famous Boracay, Teo said she has expected that controversies will hound her way before the ads scandal even surfaced.
"When Boracay was shut down, I knew it was coming. I had death threats. Many were affected with the closure of Boracay. I know that this is part of it," she said.
She also speculated that the issue may be connected with her relieving a DOT official, and her brother Erwin Tulfo's senatorial candidacy.
Source: Philippine News Agency