Return of P60M to DOT up to Ben Tulfo’s ‘conscience’ — lawyer
The decision to return the P60 million – which the Department of Tourism paid to Bitag Media Unlimited for the airing of its advertisements – is up to television host Ben Tulfo’s “conscience,” a lawyer said Monday.
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio was asked by radio DZMM to respond to Tulfo’s statement on Facebook that he would not return the money “even if your eyes turn white.”
It was Topacio – legal counsel of Tulfo’s sister, former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo – who announced to the media last May that the television host would return the money back to the DOT.
“That is a matter between Mr. Ben Tulfo and his conscience, and of course, with respect to the consequences of the law,” Topacio said in an interview over DZMM.
Topacio explained that it was Teo, not Tulfo, who had asked him to announce that her brother would return the money to the government.
The lawyer noted he was only representing Teo as legal counsel, but not Tulfo.
“Totoo naman po ‘yun (na ako ang nag-announce na ibabalik), pero hindi ko naman po sinabi na ako ang magsosoli,” Topacio clarified.
“Tumawag po sa akin si Secretary Teo, it was on a Monday, na ianunsyo ko na raw na ibabalik po nila ‘yung P60 million,” he said. “Siya po ang nagbigay ng go signal na i-anunsyo.”
Tulfo, chief executive officer and founder of Bitag Media Unlimited, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that his company earned the money in a legitimate advertising contract between his “Kilos Pronto” program and the government-run People’s Television (PTV) network.
“Sa mga nagsasabing isauli ang pera at hinihintay daw ang P60 million, mamuti na ang mga mata ninyo! Wala kaming isasauli,” Tulfo said.
To recall, the Commission on Audit (COA) had flagged DOT’s payment of P60 million to Bitag Media under Teo’s watch, citing possible conflict of interest in the transaction, which might have violated the anti-graft law. /kga
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