Human rights violations by CHR officials

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This is deplorable. Officials of an agency tasked to protect the Filipino citizens’ human rights are being accused of human rights violations.

 

VERA Files’ Jonathan De Santos reported last week that two former employees of the Commission on Human Rights filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against Commissioners Cecilia Rachel “Coco” Quisumbing and Norberto Dela Cruz for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Quisumbing is also accused of bribery.

The CHR, headed by former activist and Akbayan sectoral representative Etta Rosales, is an independent body tasked to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights in the Philippines.

Assisted by Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, deputized by CHR to report cases of human rights violations, former CHR employees Regina Eugenio and Nemesio Mendoza wrote President Aquino urging him to be more strict in the screening of people he appoints in the government.

 

 

VERA Files reported that, in a 25-page affidavit, Eugenio said Quisumbing scolded her once for picking up a pen on the floor. She said the commissioner shouted at her: “Bakit mo pinulot?! Hindi mo ba alam bakit nahulog yan?! May dahilan, Ms. Jing! May dahilan (Why did you pick it up? There’s a reason that it fell to the floor).”

The affidavit also recounted other incidents, including Quisumbing scolding her for asking whether she could have the commissioner sign some documents. Quisumbing allegedly told her to instead ask whether she “would like” to sign the documents. That way, Eugenio said, it did not seem that she was giving Quisumbing orders.

She also said Quisumbing kept the ATM cards of some members of her staff and only gave them “kung anong maibigan na amount ni Comm. Coco (whatever amount Commissioner Coco felt like giving).”

Eugenio said Quisumbing promoted her to Private Secretary from Administrative Aide 6 but kept the extra P6,000 that the promotion entitled her to.

She said Quisumbing told her the money would be put in a CRVQ fund (her initials) to pay for the office’s Christmas party and outing.

But, she said, the money was actually used to pay for Quisumbing’s credit card and utilities bills and to buy food and snacks for the commissioner.

“Sa P6,000 na inaabot ko sa kanya, wala pong napupunta sa amin (None of the P6,000 I gave her went to us),” she said.

Aside from verbal abuse and taking her money, Eugenio said in her complaint that Quisumbing rarely reported for work, and would also put on a neck brace and use a wheelchair when at the airport so she could use lanes reserved for persons with disabilities.

Mendoza, on the other hand, said he used to be Dela Cruz’s official driver although he was treated more like a family driver. He said he stayed at Dela Cruz’s house and was expected to be on call even on weekends and holidays.

“When he let me go home on Fridays, he would already tell me to report to work the next day,” Mendoza said.

This is not the first time Quisumbing’s unusual actions have been complained about . Three years ago, a male radio reporter complained that she berated him for refusing to interview her in her office bathroom while she was putting on her makeup.

VERA Files said PAHRA chairman Max de Mesa deplored the “culture of impunity” in CHR. “If they cannot even protect human rights within the commission—if they can’t protect the staff—it will be even harder to protect the rights of others,” he said.