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CoA sees conflict of interest in Tourism ad contract

Former tourism secretary Wanda Teo could be held liable for a “possible conflict of interest” for awarding a contract for a television campaign to a company owned by her brother, according to the Commission on Audit.

“Considering that the Department of Tourism 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,” the agency said in a report.

At least P89.9 million of the P120-million budget was allotted to Kilos Pronto, a show produced by Bitag Media Unlimited belonging to television host Ben Tulfo.

State auditors have found irregularities in over P2 billion worth of transactions under Teo’s stint.

In a 104-page audit report, the commission said Teo traveled to Berlin, Bangkok, Istanbul, Singapore and South Korea in 2017 and got a total daily subsistence allowance of P857,961.95.

Despite the lack of guidelines from the Tourism department’s main office, Teo and 93 other officials incurred traveling allowances of P19.29 million, “thus exposing the government to risks of incurring expenditures for excessive and extravagant travels abroad.

The commission said the Tourism department failed to come up with the guidelines for foreign trips.

On Jan. 10, the department issued an order in compliance with the commission’s recommendation.

State auditors called the department’s attention on its P271.7-million disbursement for the “Experience Philippines” campaign with McCann Worldgroup Philippines Inc., and its inconsistencies in payments for its branding campaign. 

Such represented 42 percent of the P649-million contract cost of the department with McCann.

“The non-submission of the said documents precludes the verification of the regularity of the payments made, particularly the determination of whether or not the services were satisfactorily rendered by the media and advertising agency,” the commission’s report says.

In June 2017, the Tourism department canceled its contract with McCann following the controversial “Sights” advertisement.

In addition, the report noted the deficient memorandum of agreement between the Tourism department and Cable News Network Inc., Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, and British Broadcasting Corp. with a total obligated amount of P204 million.

Teo resigned in May due to the controversial P60-million tourism ad placement on Tulfo’s program.

The commission said it could not assess the effectiveness of the department’s other locally funded marketing programs and activities with a total appropriation of P847.2 million due to inadequate performance indicators.

The commission also challenged the Tourism department for having 12 foreign Philippine tourism offices in the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Australia and the United Kingdom that got P605 million in total cash advances in 2017.

It took into account the absence of an oversight body to monitor how the funds were spent.

Topics: Wanda Teo , Commission on Audit , Department of Tourism , Kilos Pronto , Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
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