By GENALYN KABILING
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo has resigned from her post but might not yet be off the hook over the controversial advertisement contract with the state television network.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has confirmed that Teo’s resignation letter was submitted to the Office of the Executive Secretary prior to her closed-door meeting with President Duterte last Monday.
Roque also affirmed that it was now up to the Office of the Ombudsman to pursue an investigation into any liability of Teo over the Department of Tourism’s alleged irregular ad placement on her brothers’ television program.
“There was a resignation letter that was submitted to the Office of the Executive Secretary before the meeting with the President last night. This is confirmation coming from the Office of the Executive Secretary,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
Roque said he has yet to verify if the President has accepted Teo’s resignation.
Asked if Teo was now off the hook or will still face charges over the contract, Roque said: “Hinahayaan na ng Palasyo sa Ombudsman na mag-imbestiga para malaman kung may pananagutang kriminal pa si Secretary Teo. ‘Yan naman ang katungkulan talaga ng Ombudsman.”
“Inaasahan namin ang mabilis at transparent na imbestigasyon ng Ombudsman,” he added.
Roque, however, believes that Teo’s resignation was not an admission of guilt, and even thanked the tourism chief for her gesture. “Hindi naman po. I think Secretary Teo, being a close associate of the President did what she thought was the best course of action and we thank her for that,” he said.
Teo’s departure from the Cabinet came following an ongoing investigation launched by Malacañang into the DoT’s advertisement deal that has been red-flagged by the Commission on Audit.
The tourism chief has been under fire for alleged conflict of interest in placing the DoT ads on her brothers’ television program. Teo was appointed tourism secretary back in 2016.
Asked if the Palace probe found that Teo has done something wrong, Roque admitted that he was not aware about the results of the probe. He noted that Teo’s resignation has virtually preempted any final recommendation of the Executive Secretary on the matter.
“Ang pananagutan syempre ‘yan ay isang issue na tanging Ombudsman lang ang magbigay ng kasagutan dahil ‘yan ay constitutional duty ng Ombudsman,” he added.
Roque said he has not yet seen Teo’s resignation letter, and could not say if it was an irrevocable one.
Earlier, Teo’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, announced that Teo resigned on her own volition, adding there was no demand from the President for her to quit.
“Sec. Teo reiterates that she has done no wrongdoing, and that all the dealings of the DoT went through all legal processes, were above-board and done in good faith, and with total absence of malice,” Topacio said in a statement.
“Sec. Teo also says that she is honored and privileged to have served as Secretary of Tourism under the Duterte Administration, where she has done her level best to discharge her duty to promote tourism both domestically and internationally,” he added.