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CoA says ex-Tourism chief Teo could face graft charges over TV deal

FORMER Tourism secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo — PHILSTAR

THE COMMISSION on Audit flagged a possible “conflict of interest” among the Tulfo siblings over the P120-million advertising deal between the Department of Tourism (DoT) and government-owned PTV television network.

The CoA report indicated that this may be a ground to file graft charges against former Tourism secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo.

“Considering that the DoT 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,” CoA stated.

The DoT signed a deal with PTV in March 2017 to broadcast the agency’s media campaign for one year.

Ms. Teo’s legal counsel, Ferdinand S. Topacio, said the CoA report is “merely preliminary and inconclusive as far as the criminal liability of my client is concerned.”

“There is as yet not even one criminal complaint against former Secretary Teo, and therefore it is not only premature but unseemly for CoA to be making such pronouncements,” Mr. Topacio told BusinessWorld in a text message on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the findings “will certainly help us investigate a case.”

“We are not bound by the CoA report but they will certainly enlighten us in our investigation,” The Ombudsman told reporters in a press briefing, Thursday. She also disclosed the Ombudsman has already started investigations in connection to Ms. Teo’s case.

The CoA also cited travel expenditures during Ms. Teo’s term.

The DoT, in a statement issued Thursday, July 12, said while the questioned trips “were official in nature and have adhered to government procedures, it assures the CoA that it will review and revisit the agency’s existing guidelines on the foreign travels of its officials and personnel issued January 2018.”

The department also said if the review deems it necessary, it will “come up with a more stringent version while staying true to its mandate of creating a favorable image of the Philippines within the international community and promoting a positive global view of the country.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Duterte to issue EO to guide localized peace talks with NPA

MALACAÑANG ON Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to issue an executive order (EO) for the localized peace talks with members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and other militant groups.

“The localized peace talks will start after the EO,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, July 12.

The President had a special meeting last Wednesday, July 11, with the Security, Justice and Peace Cabinet cluster, where they agreed on the guidelines for the implementation of the planned localized peace talks.

The guidelines will be spelled out in the EO.

Mr. Roque said the framework that was agreed on covers the following:

1. Nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented.

2. The constitutional integrity and sovereignty will not be compromised.

3. Complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict, it shall cover the NPAs, organs of political power and Militia ng Bayan.

4. If there is a cease-fire, the constitutional mandate of the state to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties and the guarantee of rule of law and order will not be compromised at all times.

5. Government goodwill, full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to the mainstream of society.

6. The necessary enabling environment set by the President for the formal local talks to proceed are local venue, no coalition government or power-sharing, no revolutionary taxes, extortion, arson and violent activities and the fighters to remain in their pre-designated encampment areas.

7. The substantive agenda will be based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Development Program 2040.

He added that the localized peace talks will be between the local peace channel and the local fighters.

Kumbaga (It will be like), leadership; tapos community dialogue, informal open communication line and liaison network to facilitate peace package, social media exploitation, community pressure on the fighters to participate in the local peace process,” he said.

The spokesperson said there will also be an opportunity for “a direct availment of the (government) peace initiative intended to provide the integration and mainstreaming support without going through process of peace negotiation.”

Several local government units as well as military battalions on the ground have been pushing for localized talks after the failed negotiations between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-CPP — Arjay L. Balinbin

Carpio to decline Chief Justice nomination

ACTING CHIEF Justice Antonio T. Carpio on Thursday said he will decline all nominations to the post of top magistrate even after receiving nominations from the Integrated Bar and the Philippines (IBP) and former Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.

“I already declined. I will not be included in the list because only those who accept in writing will be included in the list,” Mr. Carpio told reporters in an ambush interview on the sidelines of a forum.

Mr. Carpio has previously said he would decline all nominations due to his participation in the case which ousted former chief justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno.

When asked if he would submit a formal letter to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to decline the nomination, Mr. Carpio replied, “I will soon.”

Mr. Carpio is automatically nominated to the post should he submit an acceptance letter to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) as he is the most senior justice in the Supreme Court (SC).

According to the SC’s Public Information Office, it is tradition for the five most senior justices to be automatically nominated.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra disclosed earlier this week that the JBC may bend its rule to include Mr. Carpio in the list even without a letter, following the nominations by Mr. Davide and the IBP. — Dane Angelo M. Enerio

Poe still undecided on reelection bid

SENATOR GRACE Poe-Llamanzares is still uncertain if she will seek reelection in the 2019 midterm elections amid her consistent high ratings in surveys.

“I’m not even sure at this point. It’s a personal reason for me. I have to talk to my husband about this,” she said in a television interview on Thursday, adding that her husband was “traumatized” by the 2016 national elections, where she ran for president.

The first-term senator also noted that some of her pet bills have already been turned into law, such as the recently enacted national feeding program.

“For me, that is already big thing. For that, I think that is already a big help for the country. So we really need to discuss it. And the (survey) numbers will not necessarily be the same next year. It’s not really indicative of your placement in the actual time of elections, that can’t just be the sole basis,” she said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo