NBI files graft complaint vs. ex-DOT Sec. Jimenez over P1.2-B ‘It’s More Fun’ campaign

  • NBI has filed a graft complaint against former tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. at the Office of the Ombudsman
  • The complaint is in connection with DOT’s P1.2-billion “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign ad from 2012 to 2014
  • NBI said a conspiracy happened between Jimenez and his co-accused when they renewed and extended the contracts without public bidding

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed a graft complaint against former Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. at the Office of the Ombudsman.

The complaint is in connection with the P1.2-billion “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” advertisement campaign of DOT from 2012 to 2014.

NBI Director Dante Gierran said his agency recommends charging Jimenez for violating Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

NBI also included other former officials namely Benito Bengzon Jr., Guiller Asido, and Evelyn Cajigal as public respondents in the case.

Former Dentsu Philippines Inc. (DPI) president Ma. Nonna Nanagas and former finance and administrative director Romelyn Martinez were also named as private respondents.

“Respectfully forwarded for Preliminary Investigation is the attached Evaluation Report (together with the case records), of this Bureau’s Legal Service, relative to the request for investigation from the Department of Tourism with the recommendation that the subjects be charged with and prosecution for violation of RA No. 3019,” Gierran said in his letter to the Ombudsman.

The complaint stemmed from a letter of Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Cesar Montano seeking an investigation for alleged irregularities within the TPB.

Based on the NBI’s evaluation report, DOT allotted P200 million “to design, execute and implement the DOT’s media plan in various forms such as digital, broadcast, outdoor, and print” for the agency’s Tourism Campaign.

NBI said DPI was declared ineligible to be included among the shortlist of bidders on July 19, 2012 after it failed to submit its latest income tax return and audited financial statement.

Contract extension

Jimenez then extended DPI’s contract for five months at a cost of P400 million, including a two-percent professional fee.

The extension of the contract should not exceed the original contract price of P200 million without approval from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM.)

Jimenez had argued then that no public bidding is required for the advertisement; saying a bidding is only required for an entirely new campaign and that a rebid of the existing one would be “very disruptive.”

However, NBI further said Jimenez again ignored the opinion of Raoul Creencia of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, when he extended DPI’s contract anew at a cost of P600 million without approval from the TPB Board of Directors.

The NBI said this establishes conspiracy between Jimenez and his co-accused when they renewed and extended the contract of DPI without public bidding and “despite knowledge that the same is highly irregular, and with common understanding with respect to the commission of the offense [of graft].”

Attorney Abigail Valte, spokesperson of former President Benigno Aquino III, posted a statement of Jimenez on her Facebook page.

“We believe these ‘charges’ are meant to draw public attention away from the current controversy involving the current Dept. of Tourism leadership and PTV4 where nearly P60 million were allegedly spent to buy airtime in a TV program owned and produced by a preferred party,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said he welcomes the case.