Charge Teo, Montano over DOT fund mess – De Lima
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has called for the filing of charges against resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, Tourism Promotions Board (TBP) chief Cesar Montano, and their “erring” staff over alleged “gross misuse” of funds in the Department of Tourism (DOT).
De Lima said holding Teo and Montano accountable for allegedly anomalous projects at DOT should not stop at their immediate resignation.
“The accountability of former Secretary Teo as well as her undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, for the apparent gross misuse of government funds, must not be terminated by the simple fact of their resignation,” the detained senator said in a statement on Wednesday.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 740 urging the upper chamber to investigate alleged irregular transactions and “wasteful spending” at DOT under Tulfo-Teo’s watch.
On May 8, Tulfo-Teo resigned from her post as the Commission on Audit questioned the P60 million ad placement of the DOT on her brothers’ show aired on government station PTV-4.
The P60-million worth DOT commercials were placed on the program titled “Kilos Pronto” produced by Ben Tulfo thru Bitag Media Unlimited Inc (BMUI), and co-hosted by Erwin Tulfo.
Later, another controversy, this time involving the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), surfaced: P80 million “Buhay Carinderia” project.
This prompted newly-designated DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to ask for the courtesy resignations of the agency’s undersecretaries and assistant secretaries as well as order the subsequent suspension of TPB’s Buhay Carinderia.
Consequently, Montano quit his post, as he blamed Tulfo-Teo for the Buhay Carinderia controversy.
“Their immediate resignation from the service should be of no consequence to the filing of possible charges against them,” De Lima said.
The former justice secretary urged her colleagues at the Senate to look into the “department-wide” spending of the DOT in order to ensure that government funds for tourism-related activities and events, including sponsorships, are properly and judiciously spent.
“It behooves the Senate to pursue the COA findings, as well as the findings of Sec. Romulo-Puyat, in order to shed light not just on the liability of the public officials,” she pointed out.
De Lima also urged the Senate to review possible conflicts of interest in tourism-related activities of DOT under Tulfo-Teo’s administration.
“There also appears to be a need to strengthen government safeguards against conflicts of interest, to ensure the protection of the Filipino public against the personal and vested interests of unscrupulous persons,” she said. /kga
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