PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte clarified on Tuesday, December 12, that he had "no personal reasons" in firing Philippine Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) Chairperson Terry Ridon.
He said while Ridon had thanked him for an opportunity to serve as PCUP chair, he lamented that the latter "had too much too soon" during his stint.
Ridon, a Leftist member, was appointed by Duterte as PCUP chair in August 2016. Duterte's decision to fire Ridon came after the termination of peace talks with the communists and branding of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as terrorists.
Duterte noted that Ridon, during his over one-year term at the urban poor commission, seemed to have enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, as he was able to travel abroad for around seven times.
"He traveled seven times, to think the office is an urban poor agency, I simply cannot understand. I cannot understand why you have to be there, every pow wow in the international scene. We cannot afford it," he said during the conferment of Presidential Award 2016 to child-friendly municipalities and cities.
Earlier Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announced that Duterte intended to dismiss Ridon and PCUP commissioners Melissa Aradanas, Joan Lagunda, Manuel Serra Jr., and Noe Indonto due to their alleged involvement in corruption.
Roque said the President wanted them removed from office because of their failure to hold meetings as collegial body and their supposed "unnecessary junkets" abroad.
Duterte, in his speech, reiterated Roque's statement as grounds for firing them.
"Today, I fired the whole commission of the urban poor. One, because it is a collegial body and I heard they never had any meeting, except one or two," he said.
Ridon, in a brief statement in response to Duterte's remark, explained that his foreign travels were in line with his participation in international fora concerning issues about urban poor.
"All trips were covered by Travel Authorities issued by the Office of the President and recommended by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary involving international conferences relevant to the urban poor: poverty alleviation, public housing and climate change," Ridon said in a statement.
"Further, these conferences involved a multi-agency delegation, including agencies under the Office of the President like PCUP," he added.