MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday confirmed that one of those he fired from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) is a cousin of his partner Honeylet Avanceña.
Duterte confirmed to reporters that Melissa Avanceña Aradanas, one of five PCUP officials he had axed, is Avanceña’s cousin.
“Pati siya tinanggal ko. But I told my wife ‘you call your cousin and say, alis sila,’” Duterte said in his speech during the Malacañang Press Corps Christmas party Tuesday evening.
Duterte also denied that Aradanas' appointment violated rules against nepotism, noting that he and Avanceña are not even married.
“The interpretation of the law is you must be legally married for the rules to apply,” he said.
Malacañang on Tuesday confirmed that Duterte fired PCUP chair Terry Ridon and its four commissioners - Aradanas, Joan Lagunda, Manuel Serra Jr., and Noe Indonto - for failing to meet regularly as a collegial body and for making unnecessary trips abroad.
Duterte said Ridon traveled at least 7 times during his more than one year stint as PCUP chief.
“To think the office is an urban poor agency. I simply cannot understand why you had to be there at every pow wow in the international scene,” he said.
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.
He also insisted that his travels were properly sanctioned by the Office of the President.