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Wanda Teo quits DOT amid P60-M ad controversy

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo has resigned from her post amid the controversy caused by the airing of tourism campaign advertisements in the television show of her brothers on state-run Philippine Television Network Inc. (PTV).

Teo's resignation, which was announced by her lawyer Ferdinand Topacio in a statement on Tuesday, came a day after she and President Rodrigo Duterte had a one-on-one talk in Malacañang following a Cabinet meeting.

Topacio, however, said Teo submitted her resignation letter "before the start of the latest Cabinet meeting in Malacañang Palace."

"Her letter was personally handed by her to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea in the afternoon," Topacio said. "Late in the evening, after the Cabinet meeting was when she saw the President to talk to him in private."

"Her decision to leave her position was made after a long and deliberate reflection and soul-searching with respect to the events that have transpired the past few weeks," Topacio added.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed to reporters that Teo submitted her resignation letter to Medialdea prior to the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Roque, however, said he has no information yet if the President has accepted the resignation.

No demand from Duterte

Topacio said Duterte did not demand for Teo's resignation.

Critics have raised the issue of conflict of interest against Teo after the Commission on Audit flagged payments amounting to P60 million made to broadcaster Ben Tulfo's Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMU) for Department of Tourism (DOT) advertisements to be aired on his "Kilos Pronto" program on PTV.

Tulfo is Teo's brother.

Teo had denied that she had a hand in the PTV's decision to place the DOT's advertisements on her brother's program and said that the project went through a bidding process and was reviewed by her department's legal department. 

In his statement, Topacio said Teo "reiterates that she has done no wrongdoing , and that all the dealings of the DOT went through all legal processes, were above-board and done in good faith, and with total absence of malice." 

Teo, appointed to the DOT in 2016, was the latest member of Duterte's official family to resign from post. Among those who earlier quit their posts were Vitaliano Aguirre II (secretary, Department of Justice), Aiza Seguerra (chairperson, National Youth Commission), Patricia Licuanan (chairperson, Commission on Higher Education), Dominador Say (undersecretary, Department of Labor and Employment), and Jose Jorge Elizalde Corpuz (chairman, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office). 

The President, meanwhile, has fired high-ranking officials and heads of offices accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Among the officials Duterte has sacked were Terry Ridon as chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, Peter Tiu Laviña as administrator of the National Irrigation Authority, Dionisio Santiago as chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, and Mike Sueno as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News