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COA calls into question Tourism’s P60-million ad

THE Commission on Audit has taken to task the Department of Tourism for paying a total of P60.01 million to a private media outfit owned by Ben Tulfo, the brother of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.

The money was payment for the DOT’s advertisements for 2017, COA said.     

Teo’s  department paid the amount “even without the necessary supporting documents,” it added.

The COA’s annual audit report on the People’s Television Network Inc. posted on its website on Friday said a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into between the PTNI and the DOT for the latter’s purchase of advertisement airtime with the magazine news-type daily program, “Kilos Pronto.”

“Kilos Pronto” is produced by Ben Tulfo’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc., a blocktimer in PTV-4. The program is co-hosted by Ben, his brother Erwin Tulfo and another veteran broadcaster, Alex Santos.

Under the MOA, the PTNI was obligated to air on “Kilos Pronto” a six-minute DOT advertisement segment and a three-minute DOT spot.

The COA said three checks  for  P60,009,560 were processed and released by PTNI to BMUI on May 11, Nov. 8 and Dec. 15, 2017. The checks represented  the payments for the DOT’s advertising placements.

The COA said payments were released despite the absence of necessary supporting documents such as a MOA/Contract between the PTNI and BMUI, Certificate of Performance, duly approved Budget Utilization Request and Billing Statement detailing the deliverables.

“Interview with the Accounting personnel revealed that there was no Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] or contract by and between PTNI and Blocktimer BMUI relative to the airing of DOT commercial advertisements in said program,” the COA report said.

“Since there was no MOA wherein the terms and conditions of the agreement are supposed to be spelled out, there was also no basis for the computations on how the said three payments were arrived at,” it added.

The COA said the release of payments to BMUI without the required supporting documents violated Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code and COA Circular 2012-001 which enumerates the required documents for government transactions.

The report said that while there was a MOA between the PTNI and the DOT, it did not contain a provision on specific airtime rates per segment or per spot “and such other terms and conditions of the commercial advertisement specifically as regards the manner of payment.”

COA said that in  the absence of a formal MOA or contract with the BMUI, as well as the lack of Certificate of Performance that determines the actual airing time or frequency of the airing of the DOT segment and spot, “the accuracy, legality and validity of the payments made to Blocktimer BMUI in the amount of P60,009,560 could not be ascertained.”

“Review of the MOA between DOT and PTNI showed that there was no provisions requiring PTNI to remit to Blocktimer BMUI collections from DOT for the segments/spots aired within the program, Kilos Pronto,” the COA said.

The report also said: “PTNI officers and personnel failed to exercise due diligence in the processing of the payments to Blocktimer BMUI with the end view of ascertaining that all payments made were in accordance with the duly approved contract/agreement/MOA...and duly supported with sufficient and relevant documents necessary to establish validity of the transactions.”

COA ordered the PNTI to submit the MOA entered with BMUI, indicating the “airtime rates per spots/segments”; copy of the Certificate of Performance indicating the actual airing period of DOT commercials within the airtime of Kilos Pronto; billing statement and other relevant documents to support the computation of payments to BMUI; and Budget Utilization Request duly signed to PTNI’s Budget Unit head as to the availability of funds.

Topics: Commission on Audit , Department of Tourism , Ben Tulfo , Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo , People’s Television Network Inc.
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