MANILA, Philippines - A penitent officer of the Commission on Human Rights on Monday apologized profusely to members of the media for scolding them during a press conference at her office last Friday.
In an interview with radio dzMM, CHR Commissioner Cecilia "Coco" Quisumbing said she was deeply sorry for her treatment of the media that caused some journalists to walk out on her during the press conference.
"Ako ay sobrang hiya sa sarili ko sa ginawa ko nuong Friday sa media. Hindi lang paliwanag kundi apology. Very deep apology. Over ang ginawa ko. Naiintindihan naman nila na I was trying to arrange it for them na para ayos at organized ang press briefing," she said in an interview with Ted Failon.
Quisumbing organized the press conference last Friday morning to address the torture scandal involving Manila policemen, which was leaked to the media last Tuesday. The scandal stemmed from a cellphone video that showed an alleged police officer torturing a crime suspect inside a police precinct in Tondo, Manila.
Quisumbing said she had to pick up "Ana", wife of alleged torture victim Darius Evangelista, and bring her to the CHR office before the press conference. She said some reporters were asking for one-on-one interviews even as some law enforcers were going to her office without permission.
She admitted that she asked dzMM reporter Dennis Datu to interview her inside her private bathroom because she wanted to "multi-task" and had not even combed her hair that morning. Datu, however, said he refused to go to the bathroom and got a scolding from the CHR official.
"Ang gulo-gulo ng umaga na yan. Atsaka Ted kayo nga gusto makapag-interview sa umaga na yan. At yung reporter niyo na si Dennis [Datu] ay nag-iisip na hindi kasama ang mga ibang reporter. Private na lang kaya so pinapasok ko pa siya sa banyo ko. Hindi ko pa na-ko-comb ang hair ko. 7 am pa lang sinusundo ko na si Ana Binigyan ko rin kayo ng chance but bottomline wala akong karapatan na gawin ang ginawa ko," she said.
In a separate interview, Datu said he is still seething over the treatment he got from the CHR official but said he would eventually forgive Quisumbing for her rude behavior.
During the press conference, Quisumbing scolded some members of the media for not being organized and said she would not answer a reporter's question if the person was not in her line of sight.
She also publicly scolded one journalist for sitting at the chair reserved for a CHR commissioner. This prompted some mediamen to leave the press briefing.
"Nung narinig ko kung paano ako nagsalita sa kanila - ang tagal tagal ko pang pagalitan. Hindi, ako pa ay galing media. Sobrang hiya but I hope that not only the media but the general public can forgive me," she said.
"Pagod and stress is no excuse. Our old chair who had more work was never like that," she added.
Quisumbing, who is a former journalist, said she was very cooperative with the media during the press briefing and even asked them if they wanted to interview Ana.
She said that after the incident, she still continued to cooperate with the media.
"Tuloy pa rin ang trabaho sa CHR and our cooperation with the media. Napahiya ako pero hindi naman ako nagboycott...We are still cooperating with media in this case because their work is important," she said.
Last month, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said Cabinet members will undergo a media seminar so they can deal with the media well. This was announced after two Cabinet members, Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro and Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, figured in some misunderstandings with the media.
Secretary Luistro accused the media of muddling the issue of sex education when he was asked for his comment about the topic, while Lacierda made the Malacañang press corps wait for hours for a scheduled press conference.