Junkets did urban poor exec in, says Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he fired all the commissioners of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) for the frequent junkets of its chair, Terry Ridon, and for not holding meetings despite being a collegial body.
Last Friday, Mr. Duterte warned that he would fire an entire commission as part of his anticorruption drive.
In a speech in Malacañang on Tuesday, Mr. Duterte singled out Ridon’s frequent travels as he elaborated on his decision to fire all the PCUP commissioners.
“I have no personal reasons to fire him except you had too much, too soon. He was appointed September and he traveled about seven times. To think the office is an urban poor agency,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I simply cannot … I cannot understand why you have to be there at every powwow in the international scene. We cannot afford it,” he added.
This is why he wants public officials traveling out of the country to get permits from his office, so he could see if the trip is worthwhile, he said.
The other PCUP commissioners are Melissa Aradanas, Manuel L. Serra Jr., Joan Lagunda and Noe Indonto.
Duterte also noted that the PCUP did not hold a meeting, except one or two, despite being a collegial body.
Ridon, however, justified his trips abroad, saying they were covered by travel authorities from the Office of the President and were recommended by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.
These trips, Ridon said, involved international conferences relevant to the concerns of the urban poor, such as poverty alleviation, public housing and climate change.
“Further, these conferences involved a multiagency delegation, including agencies under the Office of the President like PCUP,” he said.
He thanked the President for the opportunity to serve and said the agency’s record spoke for itself.
“We performed our mandate to the best of our abilities, with integrity and competence, despite the heavy burden of undertaking genuine reform,” he added.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Ridon’s former association with left-leaning organizations had nothing to do with the move.
He said the firing of the PCUP commissioners showed the President was serious in his anticorruption campaign.
“This kind of work performance has no place in the Duterte administration,” he said.
But the PCUP will not be abolished, he said.
Ridon, a lawyer, was a former representative of the Kabataan party-list group.
The PCUP was created by then President Corazon Aquino on Dec. 8, 1986. It started as the Presidential Committee for the Urban Poor. It was later renamed the PCUP.
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