Sunday, August 01, 2021

Ubaldo: Media is incorruptible?

EVEN media people will laugh over claims that there is no corruption in the industry.

Other than the so-called paid hacks, members of mainstream media have once or several times committed corrupt practices, either directly or indirectly, intentional or not.

As the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said, corruption has become part of the Philippine culture and it is happening everywhere, including the fourth estate.

The case of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo, is a classic example of questionable transactions in the media that is tantamount to corruption.

The P60 million advertising contract between the Department of Tourism (DOT), which was represented by Teo, and the Tulfo brothers, producers of the television show “Kilos Pronto” on state-run PTV-4, lacked "delicadeza" and tainted by conflict of interest. No amount of insistence of "good faith" or denial of irregularity in the deal can reverse the findings of the Commission on Audit .

Why did they not spend the budget on big television networks?

What has made the program "Kilos Pronto" an effective medium for the government's tourism promotion? Is the program format suited for the DOT's campaign considering its target market?

There are so many questions that need to be addressed before any government entity, as big as DOT, can place or run ads in a particular broadcast establishment. These include the type of program; the time slot it is being aired; the station's reach or areas of coverage; and many more.

Sixty million pesos is way beyond what the Tulfo's show and PTV-4 deserve considering the station's signal and program format, which is hard commentary and vulgar talk show.

In this sense, one cannot be blamed for suspecting favoritism. A sister awarding the contract to her brothers, whichever you look at it, it is highly suspicious. And even if the money is returned, as the Tulfo brothers earlier announced, the act does not erase any culpability or liability on the part of government officials, especially Teo, who cut short the process of legally entering into or signing broadcast contracts.

The COA findings may not be conclusive but it was substantially supported by pieces of irreversible evidence. This case only proves that media is not exactly incorruptible.

It is four days to go before election day. By this time, the voters might have already decided who to support for the various positions in the barangay council or the Sangguniang Kabataan.

And as the campaign has thickened, confusion among the constituents worsens. It is not only the issues raised against their chosen candidates but the pressure from family and friends as well. We all know that elections in the villages are more clannish than party-based.

The candidate with the biggest family or has earned the support of big clans usually got the highest votes. So, the barangay election is determined not necessarily by the qualities of candidates but by the choices of family leaders.


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