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Utter incompetence

I read about reports that Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo had distanced herself from her siblings as she denied knowledge of ad placements worth more than P60 million in her brothers’ TV show. It was the Commission on Audit that had discovered this.

I could only laugh.

The Tourism secretary is not aware of tens of millions in ad placements by her own department? In her own brothers’ programs?

It’s a copout!

If a Cabinet member could claim to not have knowledge of this, then she is utterly incompetent.

The CoA specifically mentioned the show Bitag, produced and hosted by Teo’s brothers.

CoA said it flagged the show because there was no memorandum of agreement between PTV 4 and the Tulfos’ media company, a blocktimer on the government TV station.

The CoA said that last year, PTV 4 paid Bitag P22.09 million in May, P18.96 million in November, and another P18.96 million in December.

Why advertise in the government station which has limited viewership? And why was there no MOA? As a result, there was no basis for the computation.

I wonder how many more of the people’s money have been wasted in this department.

This is not the first time Teo became involved in controversies. The first time was when she brought too many people with her in her foreign trips. Even her hairdresser, DoT drivers and clerks—whom she called “little people”—were able to travel.

Perhaps President Duterte should look at the DoT and find someone more suitable than Teo.

The law is clear that public officials are prohibited from accepting money or other itms, or the equivalent thereof, from the private sector.

That could even amount to graft and corruption!

***

In the aftermath of the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa and the permanent ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait, there are questions that must be raised.

When the Department of Foreign Affairs decided to undertake rescue operations reportedly abused by their Kuwaiti employers, why did the embassy staff publicize the “covert” rescue operations by posting the videos on the Internet?

President Duterte, by the admission of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, was even taken by surprise at Kuwait’s reaction and Villa’s expulsion. To me, this suggests a failure of the Department of Foreign Affairs to anticipate events.

This failure got worse when Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Villa apologized to the Kuwaiti government for the rescue operations but defended the operations as being consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

If that were so, why apologize for something that should be done by the DFA to protect Filipinos abroad? I cannot understand what Cayetano was trying to prove. If they believe they were doing the right thing, why apologize?

The Palace should be alarmed at how incompetence and stupidity are becoming the norm in the Cabinet.

***

The peace initiative and unity moves undertaken by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in put to rest fears and speculation that the Korean peninsula has become a flash point that endangers peace not only in Asia but the world.

We saw how Kim set foot on South Korean soil, the first North Korean leader to do so.

Seeing all these reminded me of the time I was invited by the South Korean government to Seoul in 1956.

When I landed, I learned that I was in the company of other foreign journalists. We were billeted in an old government hotel – the Bando, whose heating system was from the floor. It was early spring.

On the first day of my tour, we were taken to Panmunjun to see the demarcation line separating the two Koreas. I recall taking photos of the stern North Korean guards. We were lucky because on that day there was a meeting between representatives of the North and South, and were allowed to take pictures.

My photos appeared at the Philippines Herald. It’s a shame I have lost all my photos.

Our group was able to interview South Korean President Park Chung-kee. We toured the capital including that area where one could buy duty-free goods.

At that time, the so-called “kaebols” were not yet well-known. There was no Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai. Even the big international hotels had not yet been built. We also took a side trip to Busan.

***

There is a proposal made by Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza for the consultative committee drafting a new constitution to consider relaxing the restrictions on foreign ownership of mass media, educational institutions and telecommunication companies, which the 1987 Constitution limits to Filipino citizens.

Article 16, Section 11 of the charter provides that only citizens of the Philippines or corporations wholly-owned by Filipinos can own and operate mass media. Similarly, Article 14, Section 4 limits educational institutions, except those established by religious groups and missions, to be owned solely by citizens or by corporations with at least 60 percent Filipino ownership. The same goes for telecommunications.

Insofar as educational institutions and telecommunications are concerned, the country has somewhat relaxed. Thus we now have British and American schools. In telecommunications, the third telco could well be from abroad, but controlled and managed by Filipinos.

On mass media, I cannot see the need for protectionism. With the flick of a finger, we can consume material from any news organization overseas.

Topics: Wanda Tulfo Teo , Department of Tourism , Rodrigo Duterte , Commission on Audit , Renato Villa , Silvestre Bello III , Department of Foreign Affairs , North Korea , South Korea , Kim Jong-Un , Moon Jae-In , Lito Atienza
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