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Duterte fires Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor execs

The Palace announcement came after Duterte said in a previous speech that he would sack an entire commission on Monday over allegations of corruption among its officials. STAR

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:07 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte has fired commissioners of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor due to weak work performance and alleged corruption, Malacañang said Tuesday.

The palace’s announcement came after Duterte said in a previous speech he would sack an entire commission on Monday over allegations of corruption among its officials.

In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the president was referring to the PCUP, which, according to him, was composed of commissioners who had failed to meet as a “collegial body,” and who were “notorious for junkets abroad.”

Roque initially said Duterte was abolishing the entire commission but soon issued a correction.

"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, and not to abolish the Commission. The President said during the 84th anniversary celebration of the Department of Labor and Employment last December 8 that he would fire a commission. The commission he was referring to is the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor," he said.

The written order firing the PCUP commissioners has not yet been issued, Roque said.

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“This kind of work performance has no place in the Duterte administration. We reiterate we are serious about the drive against corruption in government,” Roque said.

Pursuant to Executive Order No.82 dated December 8, 1986, PCUP serves as the direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs.

It is headed by Terry Ridon, former Kabataan party-list representative.

The firing comes after the collapse of peace talks with communist rebels and Duterte’s move to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing as terrorist organizations.

Asked if Ridon’s association with the Left caused the PCUP’s abolition, Roque said: “I doubt it.”

Although Ridon was identified with the national democratic movement before the Duterte administration, it is unclear whether he was one of the nominees of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to the Duterte Cabinet in 2016.

 “I have no doubt that there will be no vacuum as far as fulfilling the mandate of the PCUP is concerned,” the palace spokesman said.

"I’m sure the president will have something na (that’s) more workable in the near future,” he added.

Sought for comment, Ridon thanked Duterte for the “opportunity to serve the nation,” adding that the commission had performed its mandate “with integrity and confidence” despite the “heavy burden of undertaking genuine reform.”

“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 text message.

“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,” he added.

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