Ombudsman orders dismissal of human rights commissioner

MANILA, Philippines – After suspending Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Cecilia "Coco" Quisumbing for 6 months, the Office of the Ombudsman eventually ordered her dismissal.

CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales confirmed this to Rappler on Thursday, September 11.

"Yes, we respect the decision, and are corresponding with the Ombudsman on what proper course of action to take," Rosales said in a text message.

According to the 23-page joint resolution acquired by Rappler, the Office of the Ombudsman found Quisumbing "administratively liable for violation of Section 7 (d) of Republic Act (RA) 6713, and grave misconduct for requesting and/or receiving the salary differential" of her former employee Regina Eugenio.

Eugenio on September 2013 filed administrative and criminal cases against Quisumbing. The commissioner allegedly promoted Eugenio after requesting and accepting from the employee her salary increase to put it supposedly in an office fund.

There were also complaints that Quisumbing requested and accepted a share of her staff’s salary, and that she employed and maintained ghost employees.

Quisumbing was suspended last February because of these allegations. (READ: Human rights commissioner suspended for 'grave misconduct')

"Wherefore, finding probable cause for Direct Bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Panel Code, violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 and violation of Section 7 (d) of RA 6713, let the corresponding informations against respondent Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing be filed with the Sandiganbayan," the resolution read.

Quisumbing was found guilty of Section 7 (d) of RA 6713 and grave misconduct and meted the penalty of dismissal from service, including the following penalties:

The order was approved last August 29 by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

First of its kind

In a statement Tuesday, September 9, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) said this judgment is "the first of its kind against a top officer of the CHR."

PAHRA Chairperson Max de Mesa said the incident shows there is a need to embed into CHR's charter the "accountability mechanism for commissioners and directors as well as...a more transparent and participative way of selecting the next commissioners by the President."

"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," he added.

PAHRA said the decision is "a breakthrough against the impunity happening in the CHR."

"Napuno na kami. 'Di na namin masikmura ang pagyurak sa aming pagkatao (We had enough. We could no long stomach her trampling on our human dignity)," PAHRA also quoted Eugenio as saying. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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