NOW it can be told.
Just months from her appointment as Secretary of Tourism, Wanda Tulfo-Teo locked horns with Mayor Sara Duterte and vice-mayor Paolo Duterte over the appointment of Roberto Alabado III, DOT director for Region 11.
Teo wanted Alabado removed, but the Duterte siblings would have none of it, according to a Politiko source at DoT.
Alabado is a native Dabawenyo who used to work at the city tourism office. He was appointed DoT regional director by Teo’s predecessor, Ramon Jimenez. Since then, Alabado has been instrumental in pushing Davao as an exciting travel destination, a feat which the Dutertes and the region’s tourism stakeholders approve.
The Duterte sibling prevailed, but it was shortlived, the source also said.
In a memo dated January 4, 2018, Teo ordered a sweeping revamp affecting 27 DoT national and regional executives. She had Alabado re-assigned to the medical tourism in Manila.
In his place, Teo shuffled Director Antonio Fernando Blanco from Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) to Region XI. Blanco was a former colleague of Teo’s husband, Roberto Teo, at the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). The Teo operates a travel agency from Davao.
Again, Davao region’s tourism sector objected. The Duterte siblings did not raise a fuss, but Davao City Tourism officer Gene Rose Tecson was quoted in media as saying, “To replace him (Alabado) now would mean losing precious time in the implementation of these programs,’ referring to the tourism programs Alabado and the stakeholders have readied for the region.
Tecson also echoed an appeal from various groups urging Teo to retain Alabado, citing that a new director who is not from the Davao would have to familiarize with its tourism potentials.
Teo chose to ignore the appeals. In a dialog with the tourism stakeholders in Davao, she was quoted in media as saying, “I talked to the President (Rodrigo Duterte) that I will reshuffle the directors and he said ‘Do what you want’. Kaya yang signature campaign na iyan, di ‘yan uubra sa akin.”
On May 8, President Duterte accepted the resignation of Teo amid a state audit report that she channeled P60M advertising funds to the BITAG Media Unlimited Inc. (BMU)’s Kilos Pronto magazine show on state television. BMU is owned by her brother, Ben Tulfo.
Teo also faces administrative cases before the ombudsman for removing career officers Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) Director Maryjune Bugante and Mimaropa Director Atty. Minerva Morada, and replacing them with personal friends who were not Career Executive Service eligibles.
Bugante was replaced by Teo’s husband’s colleague at TIEZA, Antonio Blanco, who was later transferred to Davao.
Morada was replaced by Ma. Luisa Diploma, a Dabawenya who served as Teo’s executive assistant and travel companion at DoT. (Fe B. Zamora)