Senate urges probe on P60M DOT ad placement controversy

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2018   •   3362

Sen. Trillanes will file a plunder case against Tulfo siblings in relation to P60-M advertisement controversy.



PASAY CITY, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III wants an investigation on the ad placement controversy between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the state-run People’s Television Network (PTV4), particularly in the program hosted by Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

The Tulfo brothers are siblings of former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo who later resigned amid allegations of corruption.

Sotto said he wants to check on the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee about the status of the resolution filed seeking to probe the alleged irregularities in the said P60 million advertisement deal and because the Tulfo brothers remain firm in refusing to refund the payment.

“I’ll talk to them. I’ll talk to the Chairman, and find out what’s brewing in the committee. There must be other reasons. That’s why the committee in Congress step in,” the Senate President said.

The issue started when the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the P60 million released by DOT as placement fee to PTV’s program “Kilos Pronto” due to lack of necessary documents. An issue on conflict of interest followed because the deal was done under the administration of Teo, a sister of Ben and Erwin.

Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is brewing a complaint against the Tulfo brothers.

“Unang una, kaya nga ninakaw iyan dahil walang planong ibigay. So doon na lang iyan sa plunder case magkakaalaman,” Trillanes said.

Teo earlier defended her brothers saying they had no hand in the said placement deal. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo


Only 15 hotels in Metro Manila allowed to accept ‘staycation’ guests – DOT

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) reiterated that not all four- or five-star accommodation establishments (AE) in Metro Manila are allowed to accept guests for leisure purposes.

In a statement on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said only those that have been granted by the DOT a certificate of authority to operate as staycation hotel can provide accommodation for leisure activities.

Puyat said only 15 establishments in the nation’s capital have been allowed to operate as “staycation” hotels and these are the following:

  • Grand Hyatt Hotel
  • Makati Shangri-La Hotel
  • Okada Manila Hotel
  • Shangri-La at the Fort
  • Nobu Hotel
  • Joy Nostalg Hotel and Suites Manila
  • EDSA Shangri-La Manila
  • Solaire Resort
  • Hyatt Regency City of Dreams
  • Nuwa Hotel City of Dreams
  • The Peninsula Manila
  • Aruga by Rockwell
  • Sheraton Manila Hotel
  • Hilton Manila
  • Hotel Okura Manila

Accommodation establishments that are not included in the list are either closed or operating as a quarantine facility, the DOT said.

“We would like to correct the misperception that all four- or five-star rated accommodation establishments can operate as staycation hotels. For a hotel to accept guests for leisure purposes, it has to apply for a Certificate of Authority to Operate as Staycation (CAOS) hotel,” the tourism chief said.

She also stressed that a hotel operating as a quarantine or isolation facility is prohibited from accepting guests for leisure purposes.

“With the authority is the responsibility to strictly adhere to the minimum health and safety guidelines. One has to pass the rigid inspection to ascertain that measures and systems are put in place and diligently practiced on a daily basis. It cannot, above all things, concurrently operate as a quarantine facility,” Puyat said.

Puyat made the statement after the DOT issued a show-cause order against City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati City where a 23-year old flight attendant was found dead in one of its rooms after attending a new year’s eve party.

The DOT asked the hotel to explain in three days why it should not be suspended as it is not accredited to operate as a staycation hotel.

“Lives are on the line and our economic recovery depends on everybody being responsible. Let us all perform our duties well. Each has an important part to play in managing this crisis,” Puyat said.

“This appeal is also aimed at AEs without CAOS and tour operators and other entities that continue to post invitations or make false, deceptive, and misleading claims or statements for the purpose of soliciting business from clients these non-staycation enterprises have been using social media to carry its ads,” she added.

Enterprises that wish to secure accreditation to operate as staycation hotels may submit their application through the department’s accreditation portal.

The department also urged the public to confirm via this link the operation status of an establishment before booking or checking-in. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DOT prepares for soft reopening of tourism in Baguio City

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is planning to reopen several tourist destinations in Baguio City. 

According to DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the initial plan is to allow 200 tourists a day under strict health protocols once tourism resumes in Baguio City.

“Marami na nagbukas [establishments] slowly. Awa ng Dios, walang nagka-COVID,” Puyat said during the budget hearing on Thursday (September 17.)

To further prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission, the DOT is strengthening contact-less services in hotels and other tourism establishments through online bookings and transactions.

Also, RT-PCR testing units will be placed in major tourist destinations for added protection.

Secretary Puyat said that under modified general community quarantine, tourist destinations and establishments are allowed to accommodate patrons at 50 percent capacity, but it would still depend on the approval of the local government.

Puyat also said that a big chunk of the DOT’s P8.5 billion proposed budget for 2021 will be allocated to promoting local tourism.

She noted that 4.8 million tourism industry workers have been affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gradual reopening of tourist destinations in some parts of the country is a welcome relief to stakeholders of the industry.

Puyat said, about 50 percent of business owners who applied for reopening have already been given authority to operate.

Based on a survey conducted by DOT, about 77 percent of local tourists are willing to travel domestically even in the absence of a vaccine.

Also according to the 2020 Philippine Travel Survey Report, beach hopping, road trips and staycations are among the top activities travelers would like to do once restrictions are lifted. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte to deliver 5th SONA at Batasang Pambansa — Sotto

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

“I just received word today that the President has decided to deliver his SONA in the Batasang Pambansa, the House of Representatives, on July 27,” Sotto announced during an online conference with Senate reporters.

But due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), they will limit the number of people who will be allowed entry to the Congress plenary hall.

Sotto said only 50 people will be allowed to attend – 25 from the executive and 25 from the legislative departments, which include office staff and security personnel.

And unlike the previous SONA, there will be no invited audience.

Sotto added that only nine members of the House of Representatives (HOR) and eight senators are expected to attend physically.

Sotto said he will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Tolentino, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Sherwin Gatchalian and Pia Cayetano.

The Senate President said he agrees with the decision of the Palace.

“I agree with that decision of the executive department. We must give the country and the public and the people the semblance that your government is up and about and ready to continue with its job,” he said.

Sotto said attendees in the SONA are all expected to undergo rapid testing and comply with the health protocols to be implemented during the event.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, on the other hand, said it is not yet confirmed whether the President will personally appear in Congress or will just do a video telecast emanating from Malacañang.

“The venue is confirmed, it is Batasan pero ang alam ko po, hindi pa po 100% sure kung physically maga-attend ang president or mag-broadcast po from Malago to Congress,” Roque said.

Under the Constitution, the President is mandated to deliver his SONA before a joint session of Congress every fourth Monday of July. — (with inputs from Harlene Delgado) /mbmf


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