DAVAO CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he wants CNN Hero of the Year 2009 and Kariton Klassroom founder Efren Peñaflorida to head the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
This after he fired the agency's top officials, including its chair Terry Ridon, over supposed "misdeeds," including "unnecesary junkets."
"Bigyan mo ako ng tao na galing sa hirap o mahirap, na marunong at i-appoint ko na chairman. Ang una kong i-consider 'yung nagatulak bitaw, gawin kong chairman 'yon," Duterte said in an hour-long speech during the Christmas party for Davao media held at the Presidential Guest House here.
(Give me someone who is poor but able, and I will appoint him as chairman. The first person I am considering is the guy who pushes carts, I will make him chairman.)
Peñaflorida rose to fame after he was named as CNN Hero of the Year in 2009 for pioneering a mobile classroom that sought to teach basic education to street children.
He beat 9 other contenders from different countries after getting the highest number of online votes.
In 2009, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also awarded Peñaflorida with the Order of Lakandula, a high political and civic merit given to individuals who exhibited "dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage, and resolve in the service of one’s people."
Aside from the Kariton Klassroom founder, Duterte said he is also eyeing 5 farmers from Davao to head the commission.
Duterte also asked his staff to invite qualified persons to Malacañang so he could talk to them personally.
"Bigyan mo ng allowance, Bong (Go). Siyempre hindi naman 'yan papapasukin ng Malacañang kung 'di ka naka-barong, naka-maong ka lang," he said.
Duterte said he has been looking for a person with a simple lifestyle, one who could be productive and avoid unnecessary trips overseas.
Earlier this week, Duterte fired Ridon for failing to convene the commission as a collegial body and for attending "unnecessary junkets".
"I appointed him September. He has traveled 8 times (to) every gathering, conventions, seminar outside. And to think he was representing the urban poor. Kaya pinalayas ko lahat, wala akong tinira," Duterte said about Ridon.
Ridon was a former lawmaker who represented the Kabataan Party-list, a group that is associated with the Left. His firing came after the collapse of peace negotiations between government and the communist movement.
In the wake of his sacking, Ridon asserted that the agency, under his leadership, "had implemented with full integrity the presidential promise of no demolition without relocation."
The PCUP was created through an executive order in 1986 as government's "direct link" to the urban poor and aid in the formulation of policies to address their needs.