Duterte wants pushcart hero Efren Peñaflorida as new PCUP chief; Davao teacher as commissioner

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants pushcart educator Efren Peñaflorida to head the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP) and Davao teacher Randy Halasan to sit as one of the commissioners.

Duterte made the statement before Davao City-based media Friday night, December 15. The President mentioned that he would want “yung nagtutulak ng karomata, yung nagaturo” (the one who is pushing cart and teaching) to chair the PCUP.

Duterte was referring to Peñaflorida who was named CNN Hero of the Year in 2009 for his efforts to bring education to poor children through a pushcart loaded with books and other teaching materials.

Peñaflorida was also conferred with the Order of Lakandula, the highest honors given to a civilian, by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Halasan, a teacher of Pegalongan Elementary School in Marilog district here is also being considered to sit as a commissioner of the PCUP. Halasan won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2014 for his dedication to help with the education and livelihood of the Matigsalug community in Sitio Pegalongan in Barangay Malamba.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go confirmed they have already reached out to Halasan.

Duterte on Tuesday, December 12 fired the commissioners of the PCUP, an agency supervised by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, including its head Terry Ridon.

He said Ridon has traveled abroad several times since his appointment in September.

“There’s something wrong with this office, there was never a hearing en banc, or whatever, no major reports, no nothing,” Duterte added.

Ridon, however, said all their travels were authorized by the Palace.

“The public record of the agency can speak for itself: we had implemented with full integrity the presidential promise of no demolition without relocation. 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,” Ridon said.

In his latest Facebook post Saturday, December 16, Ridon shared photos of the Greens PH Laguna urban poor climate resilience forum.

“This is one of the landmark initiatives of PCUP, in which people’s organizations are empowered to determine climate resilient housing frameworks and petition housing agencies to implement these projects in urban poor areas,” he said.

Ridon added that it was “one of the most concrete results” of the PCUP’s participation in international conferences. (davaotoday.com)