Puyat sus­pends ‘Buhay Carinde­ria,’ vows to probe ab­sence of bid­ding

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - 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 magdede­cide 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 Board head Ce­sar Mon­tano has been un­der fire for al­legedly us­ing up 180 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 my 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.

Mon­tano co­op­er­a­tive 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 1320 mil­lion.

2-minute speech

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.

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