PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants CNN Hero of the Year 2009 and Kariton Klassroom founder Efren Peñaflorida to head the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.
Duterte, who made the announcement during a party hosted by Malacañang for the Davao media Friday, also ordered Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go to locate Peñaflorida for his appointment.
The civic leader rose to fame for educating children living in slum areas using only books he brought to them in his pushcart.
He was among the personalities the President wanted to replace lawyer Terry Ridon and five other officials whom he sacked last week for costly junkets in spite of being in an anti-poverty body.
“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 at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City
Peñaflorida rose to fame after he was named CNN Hero of the Year in 2009 for pioneering a mobile classroom that sought to teach basic education to street children.
He emerged victorious from among 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.
These include Randy Halasan.
Halasan was a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 2014 for supporting a Matigsalug community in the hinterlands of Davao city.
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 would go on unnecessary trips overseas.
Duterte fired Ridon earlier this week for failing to convene the commission as a collegial body and for going on “junkets”.
The PCUP was created through an executive order in 1986 as government’s “direct link” to the urban poor and to help in the formulation of policies addressing their needs.