SENATE probers are poised to endorse the filing of charges against former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo in connection with the P60-million advertisement placements made by the Department of Tourism for airtime in a television program produced by her younger brother Ben Tulfo.
This was confirmed by Sen. Richard Gordon after wrapping up Tuesday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing triggered by three separate resolutions seeking an inquiry “in aid of legislation” on the multi-million-peso advertisements made by DOT with Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. for airtime in Kilos Pronto, a PTV-4 program co-hosted by brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo.
Gordon, however, promptly cleared broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo, saying he would not be included in the indictments as he had no role in the deal, being only a talent for brother Ben’s program. “Only Ben and Wanda are liable,” Gordon clarified.
Gordon confirmed after the hearing that only Wanda Teo and Ben Tulfo could be held “liable for graft” based on testimonies obtained by Senate probers at the hearing.
“They did it together,” Gordon said in summing up probers’ findings, adding that PTV4 officials who handled the ad placements “can skip liabilities because they were only following orders,” apparently referring to an earlier order by the President for government agencies to help the state-owned TV network with ad placements.
The senator affirmed that Senate probers are likely to endorse filing conflict of interest charges whether the money is recovered or not.
“Even if they return it, there will be a case filed against them” Gordon said. “Returning the money does not [exculpate] the parties involved if the court finds a case.”
Citing the Senate panel’s findings in the Blue Ribbon inquiry, Gordon told reporters: “The law is clear…there is conflict of interest.” He cited findings affirming the “failure of Wanda Teo to avert the anomaly.”
“It is very patent there was conflict of interest,” the Senate chief prober said.