By Betheena Kae Unite
Newly-installed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has rolled up her sleeves against potential areas of corruption in her department and moved to suspend the “Buhay Carinderia” project that has apparently skipped the bidding process.
“Stop all the projects,” Puyat said during a press briefing Thursday, when she proposed to suspend all projects of the Department of Tourism (DOT) that did not go through bidding.
“Ang ginawa ko para hindi na masyadong mahaba, COA (Commission on Audit) na lang ang magde-decide siguro (To cut things short, I’ve let COA decide),” she said, referring to which projects are above board or not.
The new DOT Chief said she had asked the COA chairman to look into all tourism projects that did not go through a bidding process.
Recently, Tourism Promotions Boards head Cesar Montano has been under fire for allegedly using up P80 million of his budget in less than a month for the “Buhay Carinderia” project without going through a bidding process.
“Uncomfortable ako, kasi sa tagal ko na sa gobyerno, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganyang practice (I feel uncomfortable, because in may many years in government, this is the only time I’ve seen such a practice,” said Puyat.
“’Yun ang comfort zone ko – chine-check ko because it’s not my money. (That’s my comfort zone – to check these things, because it’s not my money),” she added.
Puyat revealed that she had already met with Montano and he has agreed that all projects will have to be suspended.
“To be fair naman, he is very cooperative. Pumayag naman siya (He agreed to), stop all projects,” Puyat said.
She furthered she would send a formal letter to Montano asking him to update all projects with their current status.
“Pakinggan natin siya (Let us hear him out). I would ask through a formal letter kasi hindi puwedeng verbal and I am confident that he will give it to me,’ she added.
Puyat also disclosed that the Buhay Carinderia has a total budget of P320 million.
Meanwhile, Puyat disclosed that according to Montano, he did not just stay for two minutes at a speaking engagement in New York, recently.
During their meeting, Montano explained that he already had spent ample time for his presentation “complete with presentation, introduction, etc. but he noticed the audience were already bored prompting him to cut the speech short.”
“He cut his speech short because he saw that that audience are no longer interested. He was there for a long time not just two minutes then he left. I’m just saying what he told me,” Puyat said.