Press Release: Ombudsman’s order to dismiss Commissioner breaks impunity in Commission on Human Rights
September 9, 2014
Human Rights groups welcomed the unprecedented decision of the Ombudsman to order the dismissal of Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after “finding probable cause for Direct Bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code” and violating section 3(e) of Republic Acts (RA) 3019 and sec. 7 (d) of R.A. 6713. These findings and information would be filed with the Sandiganbayan. In its 27 years since established, this judgment is the first of its kind against a top officer of the CHR.
The findings highlighted elements of corruption and Quisumbing’s obvious intent to be recipient of complainant Eugenio’s salary differential by taking advantage of her functions and authority as CHR Commissioner”
In addition the complainants alleged that Quisumbing violated the dignity of some of her co-terminus staff by giving oppressive disciplinary actions, demeaning instructions and humiliating them in public. Sometimes, though office staff, they were doing chores more akin to a domestic helper or a family driver. These actions were said to have been brought to the attention of the CHR Chairperson and other Commissioners as early as 2010. No action to rectify the situation seemed to have been taken at that time. Violations continued and accumulated until some staff decided to file charges of corruption, unethical behavior and abuse of authority.
“Napuno na kami,” explained Ma. Regina D. Eugenio, together with other co-terminus staff, Elizabeth Diego-Buizon, Alexander B. Fernandez and Jesse K. Ayuste . “Di na naming masikmura ang pagyurak sa aming pagkatao.” (We had enough. We could no long stomach her trampling on our human dignity.) According to them, each had experienced being made to respond like robots waiting to move on voice commands. The staff sought the help of an NGO human rights organization to prepare for the filing.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sees the decision as a breakthrough against the impunity happening in the Commission on Human Rights. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, points out: “The decision implicitly indicts the leadership and other Commissioners of the CHR, for the delayed justice due Regina and her co-staff, despite the testimonies and evidences in their hands since last year.”
Furthermore, “This shows the imperative to embed into the new Charter of the CHR the accountability mechanism for the Commissioners and the Directors,” de Mesa added, “as well as having a more transparent and participative way of selecting the next Commissioners by the President.”
The dismissal of Commissioner Quisumbing was based on her violating Section 7 (d) of RA no. 6713 on the Code of Ethics for government employees and also of Grave Misconduct. The Dismissal included “all its accessory penalties”. This means “cancellation of eligibility”, “forfeiture of retirement benefits” and “perpetual disqualification for re-employment in government service”. This also mean that there will be one less CHR Commissioner who will receive P100,000 plus monthly pension for life that the public will have to contribute from their taxes.
The decision was signed by Jasmine Ann B. Gapatan and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales last August 28, 2014.
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