Teo quits amid DOT's P60 milllion ad placement controversy
Embattled Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo has resigned from her post amid the P60-million allegedly questionable ad placement by the department with the television program of her siblings in state-run People's Television 4.
Teo's lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, announced the Department of Tourism chief's resignation after President Rodrigo Duterte had a one-on-one meeting with her Monday night and reportedly asked her to quit.
But Topacio denied that Teo was forced by Duterte to resign.
"We wish to clarify that there was no demand made on the part of the president for Secretary Teo to resign, and that the decision to do so was purely of her own volition," Topacio said, adding, "she wants to show she has delicadeza."
The Commission on Audit has questioned DOT for paying P60-million worth of advertisements on Ben Tulfo's Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the department's ads in BMUI's "Kilos Pronto."
Tulfo is Teo's brother. Tulfo and another sibling, Erwin Tulfo, are co-hosting Kilos Pronto.
COA said there was no memorandum of agreement or contract regarding the ad placement.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Teo submitted her resignation with the Office of the Executive Secretary on Monday.
"There was a resignation letter (of Teo) that was submitted to the OES before the meeting with the President last night," he said.
Duterte talked with Teo after presiding over a Cabinet meeting, which she also attended.
Despite quitting from her post, Teo insisted she has done no wrong and all dealings of the DOT went through "all legal processes, were aboveboard and done in good faith, and with total absence of malice."
Topacio said Teo was honored and privileged to have served as DOT chief where she has done her level best to discharge her duty to promote tourism both domestically and internationally.
"She wishes her successor well and commits to continue helping President Duterte in his advocacy for positive change even in her capacity as a private citizen," Topacio said.
Roque said it would be up to the Office of the Ombudsman if charges would be filed against Teo and her brothers.
"It is the Ombudsman's duty and not of the Office of the President if charges will be filed," he said.
But he added the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea would continue with the investigation on the controversy.
The Tulfo brothers have offered to return the P60 million paid to their program.
While the possible return of the money was a "good gesture," Roque said, "but under the law, it will not completely exonerate (anyone) if there was a violation."
In a separate text message to reporters, asked of his reaction to Teo's resignation, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said, "I have no comment on Secretary Teo's resignation."
"Let us also allow the proper procedure to proceed, which is basically PTV to comply with COA's requirements," he said.
PTV4 is under Andanar's office. Celerina Monte/DMS