Tourism chief asks COA to review all tourism board projects
MANILA – Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Thursday said she suspended the P80-million "Buhay Carinderia" food tourism initiative as she was not comfortable with projects initiated without the required public bidding.
The official, formerly agriculture undersecretary appointed last week after the resignation of Wanda Teo, said she was wary about the Tourism Promotions Board's (TPB) practice of choosing partners through sponsorships.
"Hindi ko naman sinasabi na mali, pero kasi sanay ako sa DA (Department of Agriculture), lahat, bini-bid. May bidding, saka lalo na ganyang kalaki," she told DZMM.
(I am not saying it is wrong, but I'm used to the bidding process in the Department of Agriculture. Everything goes through bidding, especially if [the funding involved is] that big.)
She said she trusts that TPB chief Cesar Montano did everything in good faith.
"I have to stress na very cooperative siya (Montano). 'Di ba kapag cooperative ang isang tao, walang itinatago? Sabi ko, i-stop muna natin ito kasi hindi ako mapakali. At sabi ko, susulat ako sa COA (Commission on Audit), sa central COA, at ipapa-review ko ito," Romulo-Puyat said.
(I have to stress that he (Montano) is very cooperative. If a person is cooperative, it means he's not hiding anything, right? I said let's stop this first because I am not comfortable with the project. I said I will send a letter to COA and ask them to review it.)
"I will leave it up to the COA, sila na ang magde-decide, pero I decided to give it to the central COA. Pero ang sabi ko, hindi lamang ang Buhay Carinderia, but all the other projects of the TPB, i-review na," she added.
(I will leave it up to the COA, they should be the ones to decide on it. I decided to give it to the central COA. I also asked them to review not only the Buhay Carinderia project, but all projects of the TPB.)
Romulo-Puyat, likewise, said she asked Montano to give her details on all TPB projects.
"Hiningi ko rin kay COO Cesar Montano na ibigay niya sa akin 'yung mga ongoing projects, kung ano na 'yung stage, kung kumpleto na, or tapos na, o pasimula na. Pero ang hinihingi ko, wala munang go signal kasi hindi ako komportable na walang bidding," she said.
(I also asked COO Cesar Montano for details on all ongoing projects, the stage of each project, if it has been completed, or is finished or just starting. But I asked him not to go on with other projects because I am not comfortable with the 'no bidding' practice.)