Ex-CHR commissioner acquitted of graft, direct bribery

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2020 06:05 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division acquitted former Commission on Human Rights commissioner Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing of graft and direct bribery, charges which led to her dismissal from office in 2014.

The former CHR commissioner, who was known as Coco Quisumbing during her stint as a television newscaster, was accused of demanding and receiving the additional salary of a newly promoted subordinate.

According to the amended information by the Office of the Ombudsman against Quisumbing, the total amount taken from her former administrative aide Ma. Regina Eugenio was P41,292.85.

In the decision of the anti-graft court promulgated on Sept. 22, 2020, the prosecution failed to prove that 2 graft and one direct bribery charges were done in Quisumbing's performance of her duties as a CHR commissioner.

“As testified by prosecution witness Eugenio, the accused shall act as custodian of the monies collected which forms part of their office fund. As custodian thereof, accused never asserted ownership of the monies being handled by Eugenio and as borne by evidence presented by the prosecution, accused even affixed her name, date and signatures for every monies she received,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Lacap Pahimna, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

Eugenio's complaint stemmed from her promotion from Administrative Aide VI to Senior Administrative Assistant III in 2013 which she claimed was in exchange for giving her salary differential to the “CRVQ” office fund.

But Quisumbing told the court during trial that it was Eugenio and 2 other office staff who approached her to be the custodian of a pooled fund for office parties and team-building purposes.

The court however noted that while it is not criminal in nature, Quisumbing should not have allowed herself to act as the custodian of the funds.

“This act is unethical and inappropriate,” the court said.

The court ordered the executive clerk of court to return the full amount of P41,292.85 to Eugenio but also ordered Quisumbing to replace all demonetized monies amounting to P6,050.

Apart from Eugenio's accusations, other employees of the CHR also complained that Quisumbing issued demeaning instructions and oppressive disciplinary actions as well as humiliated them in public.

In 2010, Quisumbing made the headlines when she scolded the media in a press conference about a torture scandal involving Manila policemen, which she eventually apologized for.