Pushcart educator eyed as PCUP head


President Rodrigo Duterte is considering Efren Peñaflorida, recognized for his pushcart classrooms, to head the commission tasked to address the concerns of the urban poor.

Duterte revealed this late Friday night in a speech before Davao City-based media, according to Palace spokesman Harry Roque.

In a statement, Roque said Duterte has instructed Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go to look for Peñaflorida and ask him regarding his offer for him to lead the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP).

“PRRD (Duterte) has expressed his desire to appoint somebody who hails from the poor and marginalized sector to the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP),” Roque said.

“He likewise made mention that he wants someone who can contribute in solving the problems of the poor and activate pro-poor programs such as the one featured by CNN known for his  ‘pushcart classroom,'” he added.

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 nine other contenders from different countries after getting the highest number of online votes.

In 2009, then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo conferred on Peñaflorida the Order of Lakandula, a high political and civic merit given to individuals who have exhibited “dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage, and resolve in the service of one’s people.”

But Roque said “nothing is certain at this point” as  “everything has to go through a process.”

He also said that Peñaflorida has yet to respond to the offer.

“Both parties also need to personally discuss and thresh out expectations to the job and/or position,” Roque said.

“Presidential appointments, as we know, fall under the exclusive prerogative of the President,” the Palace official added.

Duterte earlier said he fired all commissioners of the PCUP, saying they failed to perform the agency’s mandate as a collegial body.

The commissioners, headed by former Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan Party-list were also accused of launching junkets abroad.

According to its mandate under Executive Order 82, the PCUP serves as the direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs.

Ridon earlier said the PCUP commissioners’ foreign travels were meant to represent the government and give voice to the urban poor in international conferences. He thanked Duterte for the opportunity to serve the nation, but said the agency’s record “can speak for itself.” CATHERINE S. VALENTE


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