Ombudsman clears ex-Tourism chief Teo, PTV 4, Ben Tulfo in ₧120-M ad contract


The Office of the Ombudsman has recently dismissed for lack of probable cause the graft complaint against former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, Ben Tulfo, and four others in connection with P120-million advertising contract in 2017.

In a resolution dated September 30 drafted by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Rosano Oliva, the Ombudsman also junked the complaint against DOT Executive Assistant Arlene Mancao, People’s Television Network (PTV) Inc. General Manager Dino Antonio Apolonio, PTV airtime management group head Ramon Del Rosario and Presidential Communications Operations Office administrative officer Ma. Alma Francisco over the said television advertisements.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the resolution last October 7.

Based on evidence, the resolution said, Bitag Media through the program Kilos Pronto complied with its contractual obligations even exceeding the airtime as agreed upon, saying “in short, the government got its monies’ worth.”

Based on reports, Kilos Pronto was created and developed by Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. produced by Ben Tulfo, brother of the former DOT secretary.

In its 2017 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted that the memorandum of agreement between DOT and PTV calls for the implementation of an P89,878,000 or 75 percent of the computed contract cost ads will be paid to the program Kilos Pronto.

Teo already denied that there was conflict of interest, saying DOT dealt with PTV and not her brother’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc.

“As ruled by the Supreme Court, unlike in action for torts, undue injury cannot be presumed even after a wrong or a violation of a right has been established, its existence must be proven as one of the elements of the crime and that undue injury be specified, quantified and proven to a point of moral certainty,” the Ombudsman resolution read.

“It is undeniable that while COA issued to DOT Audit Observation Memorandum [AOM] 18-018 dated 10 May 2018 relative to the MOA between DOT and PTV showing a possible conflict of interest among others, there is no evidence on record however that the same had ripened to a Notice of Suspension [NS] or a Notice of Disallowance [ND] as the case maybe,” it added.

It said even “granting for the sake of argument that a NS or ND had in fact been issued, there is nothing on record showing that it had gained finality as there are other legal remedies under the COA Rules of Procedure which are available to the respondents.”

“In the absence of proof that the findings of COA in its AOM have gained finality, the filing of the instant case borders on prematurity amounting to lack of cause of action,” it said.   

“Wherefore, the instant criminal complaint is dismissed for want of probable cause,” it added.

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