John Matthew Cruz
Cesar Montano, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board, has asked the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the alleged anomalies that he and his team unearthed at the agency as well as those who are behind moves to besmirch his reputation.
The former actor denied the corruption allegations recently levelled against him.
“Only an insider could know about the projects and the amounts involved. The JaDine [James Reid and Nadine Lustre] project was just a proposal, and it did not materialize,” he clarified, referring to the alleged P12-million sponsorship of the top tandem’s US concert tour. “So that should be out of the question, although it could have been a great venue for tourism promotions as the tour went to 12 destinations with 70-percent of the shows pre-sold. Sayang (What a pity). Just think how many foreigners could be invited by those shows or be interested to visit the Philippines,” he said in a roundtable with mediamen.
He maintained that all his transactions are above board.
“Everything goes through a process. All the department heads and the board of directors need to sign the documents before I get to affix my signature,” he pointed out.
The board’s department heads joined the roundtable to show their support to Montano.
Maricar Ebron, head of the TPB’s International Promotions Department and who has been with the agency for 39 years, admitted that it was the first time the TPB became the center of media attention.
“We want to move on — we have to move on and focus on our work, just like soldiers,” Ebron said.
Montano said he wants everyone in the agency to be loyal to their work and not beholden to anyone.
“You can’t please everybody, that’s the reality, you can’t have everyone like you. For me, whether they like me or not, what’s important is they do their work. It should be loyalty to the service, and not to a person,” he added.
He also denied charges of nepotism, saying that an appointed government official like him is allowed to hire three relatives to fill up confidential positions.
“[My brother] Rommel’s position is confidential so I haven’t even used up my three [relatives]privilege. The other person they are singling out, no, she’s not a relative,” he said.
Legal officer Venancio Manuel 3rd confirmed that the Civil Service Code allows up to three relatives to be hired by an appointive government agency head.
“It’s the President who put me in this position, and I’m happy that I can use my skills and passion in developing tourism for the country. If the President is willing to die in discharging his mandate, it’s my desire to bring change to the agency, [and am]even willing to die for it, too,” he added.