MANILA - Sacked Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor (PCUP) Chairman Terry Ridon rejected Wednesday claims of corruption but said he respects President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to fire him and other commissioners of the agency.
Ridon said their firing was "an affirmation of the resolve of the President" to remove any official with a mere "whiff of corruption."
"We reject it, but we respect the President’s decision," he told ANC's Headstart.
In a speech last Friday, Duterte said he would fire an entire commission over anomalies involving its officials and personnel.
On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announced that the President decided to fire the PCUP's top officials because they failed to meet as a collegial body and had been going on “unnecessary junkets.”
“We are serious about the drive against corruption in government and this latest decision of the President…prove beyond doubt the President is very serious in his anti-corruption campaign,” he told reporters.
Ridon said Roque was "incorrect" in claiming this, adding that Duterte never mentioned corruption in any of his speeches regarding the firing.
Ridon, a former lawmaker associated with the radical Left, said the President may have been misinformed because all of his travels were legitimate and were even recommended by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.
"I think it is clear in all the travel authorities that probably he was misinformed…that we had gone on junkets, that we have undertaken all these trips without authority from the President," he said in the interview.
In a Facebook post, Ridon shared authorization letters signed by acting Deputy Executive Secretaries Michael Ong and Ryan Alvin Acosta for the foreign trips and memos from the Department of Foreign Affairs showing that he was part of delegations of public officials.
In the interview, he again defended his trips, saying these were sent by other agencies and were never solicited by the agency.
"If there is an actual invitation and it is relevant to our agency, I don’t think there is a reason for us to reject such invitation particularly because these are state-led invitations, meaning there needs to have actual representation be government," he said.