Duterte looking for pushcart hero to head urban poor commission
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday decided to appoint civic leader and CNN hero Efren Peñaflorida to head the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) days after sacking officials of the antipoverty body.
Peñaflorida who became known for teaching slum kids how to read and write on his pushcart full of books, was among the personalities the President wanted to replace lawyer Terry Ridon and five other officials whom he sacked last week for costly junkets abroad while working in an antipoverty body.
Peñaflorida’s work with street kids had caught attention from different parts of the world, including CNN, which named him CNN hero on March 2009, for his extraordinary effort to help those in need.
But the pushcart hero may not have not heard about Malacañang’s decision yet since the President, who made the announcement during a party hosted by Malacañang for the Davao media Friday night, still ordered Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go to locate Peñaflorida and offer him the position.
Duterte also ordered Go to buy “barong” and other formal attire to the would-be commissioners.
The pushcart hero had been on top of President Duterte’s mind, when he decided to sack Ridon and his colleagues because of their “wanderlust.”
“Give me a person who is poor, who comes from among the poor and who is brilliant and I will appoint him chairperson,” Duterte had said, following his decision to replace lawyer Terry Ridon and five other PCUP officials for their junkets abroad.
“If not, I’ll get that one who taught kids with books on his pushcart,” the President said, referring to 35-year-old Peñaflorida, hailed as a CNN hero in 2009 for coming up with unconventional ways to teach street children in Cavite, including the use of book-filled pushcarts and conducting classes in garbage dumps and cemeteries.
Aside from Peñaflorida, Duterte also wants an award-winning farmer he has yet to identify among those he would appoint to the PCUP post.
Duterte said Ridon, the former representative of the leftist Kabataan party-list, had made seven trips abroad “for every gathering, conventions and seminars” while heading an urban poor commission.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said nothing is final yet about Peñaflorida’s appointment.
“Nothing is certain at this point. Everything has to go through a process. The other party has yet to give a response. Both parties also need to personally discuss and thresh out expectations to the job and/or position,” Roque said in a statement. /jpv /pdi
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