Mon Tulfo belies claim blocktimer will return P60M ad spend

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Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo (L) and her brother Ben Tulfo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — Are the Tulfos going to return the P60 million paid by the Tourism Department or not?

Broadcaster and columnist Mon Tulfo denied the claim of Ferdinand Topacio — legal counsel of outgoing Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo — that the production house owned by his brother Ben agreed to return the millions of pesos paid to them for a tourism ad placement.

"When Topacio said the Tulfo brothers, in a family meeting, had decided to return the P60 million, the guy was talking for himself. I was never consulted. Nor were Ben, Erwin or Raffy," he wrote in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday.

Topacio said on CNN Philippines on Monday that Ben personally called to inform him that his production house Bitag Media Unlimited, Inc. agreed to return the Tourism Department's advertising budget to end the controversy. Topacio also said that the money would be returned even if Teo resigns.

Ramon said his brothers, Raffy and "Kilos Pronto" co-host Erwin, are asking why they should return the money to the government.

"Why would I return the money that I never got in the first place? That's what Erwin and Raffy are also asking," he said in his column entitled "Setting The Record Straight."

Topacio brushed off Tulfo's piece, insisting he has talked to Ben.

"Si Mon lang ang may sabi nun, huwag niyo nang intindihin si Mon, kawawa naman ulyanin na yun eh. Ben and Raffy should speak for themselves. I never consulted him... Ang kliyente ko si Wanda Teo, not even Ben, but Ben talked to me twice," he said.

[Translation: Don't listen to Mon, he's old. Ben and Raffy should speak for themselves. I never consulted him. Wanda Teo is my client, not Ben, but Ben talked to me twice.]

Teo got caught in the controversy after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned her department's P60-million ad placement on the Tulfo brothers' show "Kilos Pronto" through a deal with government network PTV-4.

COA said the transaction between PTV and Bitag Media lacked supporting documents. It said the Tourism Department paid P60.009 million in three tranches to Bitag Media to place commercials on "Kilos Pronto," the show on PTV-4 which features Ben and Erwin Tulfo and Alex Santos. "Kilos Pronto" is a blocktimer, meaning it is paying PTV-4 to air their show on the state-run TV network.

Blame on Ben, not Wanda

Mon Tulfo pinned the blame on his brother Ben, saying he should have refused the ad placement on his show "Kilos Pronto" as it could put Teo in a tight spot.

"Ben ... should have known better than to touch the multi-million peso advertising contract with PTV-4 since that would constitute conflict of interest on his sister's part," he said.

Mon said Teo wanted to protect her younger brother, Ben, which resulted in her eventually losing her job.

He added President Rodrigo Duterte sacked Teo, contrary to Topacio's statement she resigned voluntarily out of delicadeza and to protect the President.