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Doble ang utang! COA orders Tulfos, PTV-4 to return P120M from ad deal with DOT

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The Tulfos will have to pool all of their resources to return the P120 million they owe the government in connection with the controversial advertisement deal they signed with the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The Commission on Audit has found that the memorandum of agreement between DOT and People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI) for airing tourism ads on the Tulfo brothers’ show was worth P120 million.

In its 2017 annual audit report on DOT, COA flagged the deal between DOT and PTNI for “possible conflict of interest” because 75 percent of the contract cost or P89.8 million will be paid to “Kilos Pronto,” a show produced by the Tulfo brothers who are siblings of then-Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.

“Considering that the DOT Secretary and the producer of Kilos Pronto are siblings, there is a possible conflict of interest which may be a violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act…,” COA said.

DOT and PTNI entered into a MOA on March 15, 2017 for the airing of DOT’s commercials for P120 million. A provision in the contract states that PTV “should submit a report every 5th day of the month of all the TV placement schedule made for the previous month certified by its authorized personnel to the designated focal person of the DOT or his duly authorized representative.”

Only after the report and supporting documents are submitted that payments can be made.

The MOA between DOT and PTNI specifically includes the airing of a six-minute segment buy plus a three minute or six 30-second DOT spot in PTV’s daily news-type magazine segment.

COA found that based on the airtime schedule provided in the MOA and media plan, “Kilos Pronto” will get most of the cost of the airing since the tourism commercials will be frequently aired within their program and it is the only program that will provide a segment for DOT.

In its audit, COA discovered PTNI’s failed to submit documents regarding the TV placement of the ads, proof of broadcast and detailed cost of the amount it billed the DOT.

“[A]nalysis was made on the MOA, approved media plan and actual telecast based on the Certificate of Performance and we noted several inconsistencies on the number of times the DOT TVC, segment and programs was aired, indicating the PTV’s non-compliance with the MOA,” the report read.

COA’s analysis showed the DOT’s ads, segment and programs were aired less frequently than what was stated in the MOA.

While PTNI committed had several deficiencies, COA also faulted the Bids and Awards Committee of the DOT for failing to ask quotations from media networks on airing its ads. They said the agency also did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis for the deal considering it is the first time it will be entering into a news-type magazine segment contract.

“It should be pointed out that PTV has a low viewership as compared to other networks which could defeat the purpose of increased tourism awareness,” it said.

In defense of the MOA, DOT said Teo approved the deal because it was cost-efficient. The agency also said airing the ads over PTV-4 was cheaper than broadcasting it over ABS-CBN or GMA Network.

Quoting Teo’s chief of staff Arlene Mancao, COA said the then- Tourism Secretary “wants to have an alliance with a TV station which will not cost that much and will be a venue for DOT to showcase its projects and programs, as well as the different destinations, events, festivities from all regions.”

Despite DOT’s explanation, COA issued a notice of disallowance for the deal last June.

Teo resigned in May over the controversy caused by COA’s earlier finding that PTNI paid her brothers P60 million for airing the DOT’s ads without proper documentation.

The Tulfos’ abogado, Ferdinand Topacio, has said they will return the P60 million to DOT but Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat said they have yet to follow up on their word. (with report from John Carlo Cahinhinan)

 

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