Duterte to fire urban poor commissioners

(UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fire Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) chairperson Terry Ridon and four other commissioners due to purported irregularities, not abolish the commission, Malacañang said on Tuesday, December 12.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. issued the correction shortly after he announced in a press conference that the President sought the abolition of PCUP.

The incumbent PCUP commissioners include Melissa Aradanas, Joan Lagunda, Manuel Serra Jr., and Noe Indonto.

"With sincerest regrets, I would like to correct the statement I made on the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) during this morning’s press briefing. It is to fire (the commissioners), and not to abolish the Commission," Roque said in a statement sent to Palace reporters.

Roque said Duterte's decision came after the PCUP's failure to conduct meetings as a collegial body and its officials' purported "unnecessary junkets" overseas.

"The President stated two grounds behind his decision to (fire the commissioners). Number one: it is, according to him, a collegial body and they have not met as a collegial body. And number two, that the commissioners are notorious for junkets abroad," he added.

In a speech delivered in Malolos, Bulacan on December 9, the President first revealed his plan to fire an "entire commission" allegedly involved in rampant corruption.

The PCUP, through Executive Order 82 signed on December 8, 1986, is mandated to serve as the direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs.

Duterte has been living up to his campaign promise of running a "clean" government when he dismissed several government officials who either failed to fulfill their mandate or was reportedly corrupt.

Roque said Duterte's decision to remove PCUP commissioners from office only signified the latter's dedication to rid his administration of erring public officials.

"So this kind of work performance has no place in the Duterte administration. We reiterate, we are serious about the drive against the corruption in government," he said.

"This latest decision of the President to abolish the PCUP, among others, for unnecessary junkets of its officials, prove beyond doubt that the President is very serious in his anti-corruption campaign," the presidential spokesman added.

Ridon, a Left-leaning official, thanked the President despite the latter's decision to dismiss them following allegations hurled against the commission.

He maintained that thePCUP during his stint had served with "integrity and competence,"

"We thank the President for the opportunity to serve the nation. The public record of the agency can speak for itself: we had implemented with full integrity the presidential promise of no demolition without relocation," Ridon said in a statement.

"We had represented government and given voice to the urban poor in international conferences on public housing, poverty alleviation and climate change, which was unprecedented in any administration. We performed our mandate to the best of our abilities, with integrity and competence, despite the heavy burden of undertaking genuine reform." (SunStar Philippines)
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