(Reposting the article following a correction issued by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on his previous statement on the “abolition” of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.)
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not abolish the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, as announced by Malacanang earlier on Tuesday, rather, the Chief Executive will “fire” its incumbent officials.
In a correction to his previous announcement, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said:
“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.”
Roque referred to a statement the President said last December 8 during the 84th anniversary celebration of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in which he said that he would “fire a commission.”
Roque said, however, that the President was referring to the PCUP.
Roque said Duterte mentioned that PCUP was notorious for junkets abroad, and has not met as a collegial body.
Roque cited two reasons for the Presidedent’s decision: “Number one, it is, according to him, a collegial body, and they have not met as a collegial body. Number two, the commissioners are notorious for junkets abroad. This kind of work performance has no place in the Duterte administration.”
“We reiterate, we are serious about the drive against the corruption in government,” said Roque.
Roque said it was he who informed PCUP chairman Terry Ridon of Duterte’s order.
In response to the President’s order, Ridon said:
“We thank the President for the opportunity to serve the nation. The public record of the agency can speak for itself: We had implemented with full integrity the presidential promise of no demolition without relocation.”
Without citing allegations of “junket” trips, one of the reasons cited by Duterte for abolishing the commission, Ridon said: “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 said the commission “performed our mandate to the best of our abilities, with integrity and competence, despite the heavy burden of undertaking genuine reform.”
The PCUP was founded on December 8, 1986 through president Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order 82 “to serve as a direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs,” according to its official website.
On January 30, 1989, through EO 111, government agencies were asked to coordinate with the commission, to conduct activities regarding the urban poor.
On December 10, 2002, through EO 152, the PCUP was tasked by the government to conduct demolitions and evictions that involved homeless and underprivileged citizens.
Initially under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the PCUP was transferred to the Office of the President on March 29, 2012, through EO 69 issued by then president Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) serves as a direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressing their needs. It coordinates and monitors the implementation of government policies and programs for the urban poor. It also accredits legitimate Urban Poor Organizations (UPO) for UPO representation in the formulation of recommendations relative to the sector,” according its website.
Aside from Ridon, the PCUP has four commissioners: Dr. Melissa Aradanas, Dr. Joan Lagunda, Manuel Serra Jr., and Noel Indonto. Its main office consists of a total of 36 employees. ARIC JOHN SY CUA