Gordon: 'Clear conflict of interest' in Tulfos' P60-M ad deal

MANILA, Philippines – There is a clear conflict of interest.

This was Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon’s initial findings, as he wrapped up the probe into the Tulfo siblings’ questionable P60-million tourism advertisement deal with state-run PTV.

“Definitely, very patent yung conflict of interest,” Gordon told reporters after the hearing on Tuesday, August 14.

"There is a clear conflict of interest," he said in a another interview.

Gordon is eyeing the recommendation of charges of graft against former Tourism chief Wanda Tulfo-Teo and her brother, Bitag Media head Ben Tulfo. Gordon said he would not recommend plunder because the siblings did not “pocket the money.”

“That's graft and corruption. Tama sinabi ng COA, lahat ng sinabi ng COA. May liability (There is liability) on the part of Tulfos, of PTV on the part of all the other people. It goes down as it goes down," Gordon said.

“Ginamit naman yung pera for TV advertising, 'di naman binulsa eh. Nag-negosyo sila, nabigyan ng ayuda yung negosyo ng kapatid. 'Di ako makapaniwala na hindi nila alam 'yon,” he said.

(The money was used for TV advertising and was not pocketed. They were is a business and the sister provided "assistance" to her brother. I could not believe that they were not aware of this.)

The senator, however, excluded Erwin Tulfo from accountability, saying Teo and Ben are the ones “criminally liable.”

The Commission on Audit had previously questioned the P60 million paid by the DOT for ad placements on Kilos Pronto, the Bitag Media-run show co-hosted by the Tulfo brothers, citing the lack of supporting documents.

As for returning the money, he said it is not up to the panel to decide. He, however, said that there is still liability even if the Tulfoes decide to return it to the government. The siblings told the panel that they would not return the money  despite an earlier announcement from Teo's camp saying otherwise.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, also said he was “not convinced” of the statements of the siblings.

Teo reiterated that she did not know her brothers were the hosts of Kilos Pronto, the Bitag Media-run show where the DOT placed P60 million ($1.15 million) worth of advertisements.

Ben said there was no involvement of Teo in the deal, as the contract was between DOT and PTV.  – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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