Trillanes seeks Senate probe into P60-M DOT ads in Tulfos’ show

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday, May 9, filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the P60-million advertisement placement  of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in a television show produced and hosted by the brothers of resigned tourism chief Wanda Teo.

"There is an immediate need to look into the irregularities in the disposition of the DOT’s budget and its expenditures in advertising and marketing in order to ensure that government funds  are legally and properly allocated, directed and spent towards the sole purpose for which the funds were allocated," Trillanes said in filing Senate Resolution 726.

He called for a Senate tourism committee investigation into the DOT ad placement in the Kilos Pronto show of blocktimer Bitag Media Unlimited, Incorporated (BMUI) aired on PTV4.

BMUI is owned by Ben Tulfo, who co-hosts Kilos Pronto with brother Erwin. They are siblings of Teo.

“Despite of this apparent conflict of interest, Secretary Teo approved the contract,” the senator said in his resolution.

The senator filed the resolution a day after Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte accepted the resignation of Teo, following the controversial ad placement.

In its 2017 audit report on the People's Television Network, Incorporated (PTNI), the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the DOT payment made to BMUI because of lack of proper documentation.

Trillanes said that based on the COA report, the memorandum between PTNI and the DOT “specifically required PTV-4 to air a 6-minute segment buy in Kilos Pronto, a news-type magazine program, and an additional 3-minute DOT spot within said program.” 

The senator also cited a Rappler report that the state-run network has no obligation to sell ads for a blocktimer.

"In light of this controversy, it can be surmised that PTNI brokered ads for its own blocktimer, which is BMUI," he said. 

Teo, through spokesman Ferdinand Topacio, announced her resignation "after a long and deliberate reflection and soul-searching with respect to the events that have transpired the past few weeks."

Topacio had said that according to his client, she had "no idea" that her brothers hosted Kilos Pronto, which was supposedly chosen for the DOT ad placement because of its high ratings and popularity. (FACT CHECK: Wanda Teo claims no hand in P60M ads, but DOT contract specified Bitag)

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales confirmed on Wednesday that the Office of the Ombudsman has launched an investigation into controversy. –