COA flags PTV 4 incentives, supply mess
After discovering controversial payments by the Department of Tourism (DOT) advertisements to the state-run television network, the Commission on Audit (COA) has found that PTV 4 also gave more than P10 million in unauthorized “incentives” to its employees.
The government network also failed to take action against suppliers of, among other things, electronic vans and broadcast equipment, that did not comply with their delivery commitments, COA said in its 2017 annual audit report posted on its website.
The state auditing agency said the People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI) released P10.456 million as employee incentives in December 2017 “without the approval of the Office of the President (OP),” which is required by Presidential Decree No. 1597.
To avoid refunding the irregularly granted benefits, auditors told PTNI to obtain the required approval and submit a copy of the OP’s authorization.
State auditors said PTNI also should have rescinded its contracts with various suppliers that did not deliver procured goods on time, in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act, and collected at least P67 million in damages from them.
The COA also said a special disbursing officer whom it did not identify incurred a P1.085-million shortage in cash advances in connection with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Ministers Meeting and the Grand Commemorative Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Asean.
State auditors recommended that the officer be required to immediately restitute the cash shortage and to face charges.
Presidential Assistant Christopher Lawrence Go said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had opened his own investigation of the PTNI-DOT contract to pay P60 million to a blocktime program by a brother of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.
Among those being investigated is Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Go said in a text message to Manila reporters.
He said the President wanted to know “what really happened, what was the whole story” behind the DOT payments.
“Whoever commits mistakes, even if they are friends or even if they are close to him (Mr. Duterte) will answer. Nobody is untouchable as far as the President is concerned,” Go added.
Teo has denied reports that she selected the production company of his brother, Ben Tulfo, to get the DOT ads.
“It’s not true because I cannot dictate on PTV 4 which programs to place the ads in. They decided on it,” Teo said, adding that the contract made between PTV 4 and DOT went through the required bidding process and reviewed by DOT’s legal counsels.
The COA also reported that Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) officer in charge Ma. Jude de la Serna spent P627,293.04 in traveling to and from her home in Tagbilaran City in Bohol province last year when Philhealth suffered a net income loss of P8.92 billion.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he would ask the Office of the President whether it would look into the report, but the Ombudsman should take the initiative to investigate the Philhealth case.
“So I’m hoping that because the Ombudsman has been furnished a copy of all these reports, that they will act on these reports,” Roque told reporters. — WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO AND ALLAN NAWAL