Montano blames Teo on P80-M ‘Buhay Carinderia’ mess
Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Cesar Montano washed his hand and placed the blame regarding his agency’s mess to his former boss, resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
In a radio interview by dzBB on Friday, Montano said it was Teo who pushed to pay P80 million in just a month to Marylindbert International.
The marketing agency, owned by Erlinda Legaspi, was the organizer of “Buhay Carinderia,” a video series project aimed at promoting local eateries.
Formely called “Carinderia Fiesta,” the project was initiated by Legaspi in 2011. It was only in March 2018 that it was sponsored by TPB.
Newly appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat called out Montano for disbursing 90 percent of the P80 million even if Buhay Carienderia was not completed yet.
On Thursday, Puyat suspended all TPB projects until these were reviewed by the Commission on Audit.
Checks bearing the signatures of Montano and Teo showed that TPB made payments on March 19, for P13.44 million; March 20, for P31.36 million; and April 17, for P35.84 million.
“The TPB extended our reservation. We informed Secretary Teo that the disbursement was too fast and we didn’t need to pay them immediately,” Montano said.
He said Teo introduced Legaspi to him, saying she was a “friend.”
Montano said he could not question payments Teo wanted to be made for TPB projects because “she’s the chairman, she’s the boss.”
The TPB official distanced himself when he was asked on DOT sponsoring the fashion shows abroad of designer Renee Salud.
“I only sponsor to help… because I want to closely work with the Secretary (Teo),” Montano said. “I would have a hard time to get our projects approved if I wouldn’t be supportive.”
Legaspi had alleged close connections to Salud, who was Buhay Carinderia’s project director for pre-pageant activities in 2015.
Teo also hired Salud to design her gown for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in 2017. She also disclosed in a magazine interview that she used to model for Salud before venturing into the business of travel agencies. /jpv
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