Duterte accepts Cesar Montano's resignation from tourism board amid bidding controversy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — Actor Cesar Montano resigned as Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief on Monday amid alleged irregularities in the agency's projects.

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat confirmed Montano's departure, saying President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted his resignation.

She said she expected the Commission on Audit (COA) to continue to look into the alleged irregularities.

"Yes, confirmed," she said in a text message to CNN Philippines when asked if Montano has resigned. "I would like to consider this matter closed – from my active involvement – but trust that COA will get to the bottom of this episode."

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go also confirmed to CNN Philippines Montano's resignation letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte through Go.

"In faithful adherence to my duty as a public servant, I am respectfully tendering my courtesy resignation as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) effective immediately," the letter dated May 22 said.

"I am truly grateful for the trust and the opportunity you have bestowed upon me to serve our country through the Tourism Promotions Board," it added.

Montano was in hot water for approving multi-million peso projects without proper bidding. Last week, Puyat suspended all TPB projects, including the controversial ₱320 milllion "Buhay Carinderia," pending an audit by COA.

Puyat learned that "Buhay Carinderia" skipped bidding and was instead sponsored by TPB, as was common practice in the agency under Montano.

Additionally, TPB already paid ₱80 million to the organizer "Buhay Carinderia" although it had not even been launched.

TPB Deputy Chief Operating Officer Maricon Ebron told CNN Philippines it was Puyat's predecessor, Wanda Teo, who referred "Buhay Carinderia," which promotes local eateries, to the agency.

Ebron also said TPB spent millions of pesos in projects that did not go through proper bidding or were not approved by the Board of Directors.

"Marami nang naimplement na medyo nangangailangan ng bidding (Many implemented projects needed bidding.) or it has to go through the process, ng board approval na medyo nagskip doon sa mga processes na iyon (but skipped the process). So I think na tama na dapat ireview (It's right to conduct a review)," Ebron said.