PMAers, PIA exec gang up on ‘next press secretary’
Talk about getting a dose of your own medicine.
Radio host Erwin Tulfo, who had earlier called Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista “mentally deranged” on air for supposedly refusing to grant him an interview, found himself at the receiving end of expletives, with Bautista’s fellow government officials and military colleagues slamming him for being a “pretentious, poisonous media personality” and calling for his dismissal from state-owned Radyo Pilipinas.
In his radio program “Tutok Erwin Tulfo” aired on May 27, the tough-talking anchor repeatedly berated Bautista and warned that he would slap him and dunk his face into a toilet bowl should they meet. This was after the Cabinet official declined a live radio interview.
Tulfo hit the headlines last year for being the coanchor, along with brother Ben, of “Kilos Pronto,” a “blocktimer” on government channel PTV-4 that was flagged by the Commission on Audit for having entered into an “anomalous” P60-million advertising contract with the tourism department, then headed by their sister, Wanda Tulfo-Teo. The brothers have refused to return the amount, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
After cursing Bautista on his program, Tulfo asked President Duterte to fire the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) official, saying he was “inutile” and “useless.”
“Who is this son of a bitch that we need to write [a letter of request] first [before we interview him]? I don’t care if you’re a retired general. I will throw your face in the toilet if I see you!” he said. “He should be fed to the cannon and sent to the Abu Sayyaf.”
After his diatribe drew a firestorm of criticism on social media, Tulfo apologized on his radio show—but insisted that criticizing government officials was part of his job as a journalist.
‘This superstar wannabe’
But Harold Clavite, director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), thought otherwise.
“To be berated in public by a pretentious and poisonous media personality, whose only leverage is his last name and airtime in government radio, is complete nullity. Bautista is a blazing star, way incomparable from this superstar wannabe,” Clavite said in his Facebook post.
Bautista, Clavite said, was “a man of character, integrity and professionalism” who headed the military task force during the May 2017 assault on Marawi City by Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists.
In contrast, he added, Tulfo’s brand of journalism was “totally unheard of and I always wonder how some people in the industry get away with such misconduct and transgression.”
Added the PIA chief: “To consider this guy to be the next press secretary is not only hallucinating, but unpleasant and excruciating.”
In an interview last week, Press Secretary Martin Andanar described Tulfo as someone qualified to be Mr. Duterte’s next press secretary, saying “he’s been in the media for ages.”
PMA grads speak out
“He started in print, then he went to radio, then he did TV; he became an anchor. It seems wherever he goes, from ABS-CBN to TV5 and now to government, he has the trust of millions of Filipinos and basically he has a huge following and by that alone, his credibility has heft,” Andanar said.
Graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) also condemned Tulfo’s “degrading remarks” about Bautista, a member of PMA “Sandiwa” Class 1985.
“No matter what reason Mr. Tulfo had, it is not right to use such crude and offensive words against Sec. Bautista,” the PMA Alumni Association said in a statement.
Agustin Nicolas Sotelo, a graduate of PMA Class 1987, reminded Tulfo that he was able to exercise “even your foul-mouthed ways … because of that democracy that soldiers keep for you.”
“I am in no way threatening you. [I am] merely using my right also, as cared for by our uniformed band of brothers, to remind you of the repercussion of having too much freedom,” Sotelo said, adding: “There will always be a time for reckoning!”
On Facebook, an online user claiming to be a former officer of the elite Scout Rangers—the unit Bautista previously belonged to—set up a Change.org petition demanding the “Sincere Public Apology of Mr Erwin Tulfo to DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista.”
The petition has gathered nearly 4,000 signatures as of this writing, mostly from PMA alumni.
Soldiers have also shown unequivocal support for Bautista on their Facebook pages, posting equally colorful rants against Tulfo and sharing photos of Bautista in his combat uniform during the Marawi siege, and in his red DSWD vest delivering goods and services around the country. —WITH A REPORT FROM FRANCES MANGOSING
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