By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — It’s not a secret in the Department of Tourism (DoT) that resigned secretary Wanda Corazon Teo and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Cesar Montano were not in good terms.
For instance, when Teo learned that the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) had invited Montano to grace the 119th Philippine Independence Day Parade here on June 4, 2017, she reportedly threatened to cancel DoT’s financial pledge of $100,000 for the festival.
When her alleged threat to cancel the financial windfall leaked to the press, Teo changed mind.
Parade organizers reportedly got the amount but Teo decided to cancel her trip to New York City for the parade.
Dr. Prospero Lim, 2017 president of the New York-based PIDCI, confirmed to this writer in an exclusive interview on May 28, 2017 that Teo “decided to withdraw” from the parade but he did not specify why.
It was Montano who showed up officially to represent the DoT. He joined singers Martin Nievera, Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha, American Idol’s 11th Season 1st runner-up winner Jessica Sanchez, then New York-based Ms World-Philippines 2014 Valerie Weigman, former Grand Champion Global Pinoy Singing Idol, Shane Ericks, and comedian Mikey Bustos in the biggest parade of Filipino community in the United States.
In many tourism-related festivals and activities in the Philippines and abroad, Teo and Montano reportedly made sure their paths wouldn’t cross.
If both Teo and Montano were invited, one of them would show up and the other wouldn’t.
Although Montano’s office is DoT’s attached agency, the actor would get the same attention as Teo in as far as official invitations were concerned in various tourism-related events in the Philippines and abroad.
The genesis of the purported feud between Teo and Montano could be traced back during the time when Teo’s younger brother, Erwin Tulfo, was a newscaster in the ABS-CBN in 2004.
Montano, who was involved in a spat with several showbiz actresses and martial arts icons, was always the subject of Erwin’s critical commentaries.
Because of Erwin’s tirades, Montano reportedly once challenged Erwin to a fistfight.
When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, he gifted Montano, a native of Bohol, with the coveted TPB post for helping him during the campaign period.
TPB is tasked with domestic and international promotions for the DoT.
Duterte gave the top DoT post to Teo, biological sister of hard-hitting media men–Ramon, Ben, Raffy, and Erwin–who also campaigned for Duterte.
Before Teo was in trouble for the P60 million DoT advertising contract placed in her brother’s block time TV program aired over PTV-4, it was Montano who was first hit by controversy over alleged corruption and nepotism.
TPB employees have filed a complaint against Montano, for entering into alleged questionable contracts and nepotism.
Submitted to the Presidential Action Center, the complaint listed 30 several alleged misdeeds of Montano such as appointing his relatives into positions whose functions are similar to those of incumbent employees, as well as unprofessional behavior.
Among the actor’s alleged malfeasance was the approval of a P11.2-million contract with a production company that had tapped him and his as guest performers.
The complainants said Montano also paid the same production firm P16.5 million in connection to a rally of President Duterte’s supporters at Luneta park in Manila on February 25, 2017 where Montano has also performed.
The board also complained of paying for Montano’s trips, which they say were not related to his work as chief operating officer.
The actor denied all the charges against him.
While Duterte refused to fire Montano, a protege of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr., the president did not hesitate to sack Teo, whose husband Robert, served as assistant Davao city administrator when Duterte was mayor.