GMA Network probes radio anchor's alleged payoff

Posted at 03/19/14 11:20 AM

MANILA – GMA Network on Wednesday said it is investigating allegations that one of its Radio DzBB anchors had received payoffs from a state-owned corporation.

An Inquirer report published on Tuesday evening quoted former National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) officials Rhodora Mendoza and Vic Cacal as saying that TV5 news anchor Erwin Tulfo and Radio DzBB broadcaster Melo del Prado received payoffs in the form of "advertising expenses" from the government agency in 2009.

Mendoza and Cacal said Tulfo received a check for P245,535 on March 10, 2009 drawn from a NABCOR account at United Coconut Planters’ Bank (UCPB), Tektite Branch PSE Center, Ortigas, Pasig City.

On the other hand, Del Prado, Carmelo del Prado Magdurulang in real life, received three checks totaling P245,535 on April 27, May 14, and July 6 in 2009, also drawn from the same UCPB account.

The checks were part of documents submitted by Mendoza and Cacal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Cacal said apart from the vouchers justifying the processing of the payment, no other documents were provided to justify the expenses.

The payoffs were allegedly sourced from pork barrel funds coursed through NABCOR, an agency under the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In the Inquirer report, Tulfo denied receiving money from NABCOR, saying his name could have been used by someone else.

Del Prado, meanwhile, refused to discuss the allegation.

In a statement posted on GMA's news website, broadcaster and GMA Network's radio group head Mike Enriquez said the broadcasting company will investigate the allegations.

"GMA Network places the utmost importance on the professional and ethical conduct of all its personnel, particularly those engaged in news and public affairs. Any information regarding activity that runs counter to our core values and ethical standards is taken very seriously," Enriquez said.

"In accordance with standard procedure, we will conduct a thorough investigation of any allegations of violations. Due process will be observed and we will ensure that full sanctions will be applied if determined to be necessary."

In the same Inquirer report, Mendoza said another "TV and radio personality" received P2 million from Nabcor president Alan Javellana on the instruction of then DA Secretary Arthur Yap "as payoff to stop criticisms of a Nabcor project."

Mendoza, then NABCOR vice president for finance, and Cacal, head of general services, alleged that P1.7 billion in pork barrel funds, formally known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), were coursed by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Edgardo Angara and 79 representatives to NABCOR from 2007 to 2009.

These funds allegedly ended up in the hands of bogus non-government organizations. NABCOR officials and lawmakers allegedly received kickbacks from these fake NGOs.