Court upholds CHR official’s dismissal

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THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman that fired a former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commissioner for grave misconduct and for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

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In an eight-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Jane Aurora Lantion, dated August 26, 2015, the CA’s Special Sixth Division dismissed a petition filed by former CHR Commissioner Cecilia Rachel “Coco” Quisumbing.

Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Carmelita Salandanan Manahan concurred with the ruling.

Quisumbing was a former newscaster of RPN Channel 9 and the daughter of retired Supreme Court Justice Leonardo Quisumbing and the late CHR Chairman Purificacion Quisumbing.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Ma. Regina Eugenio, Elizabeth Diego-Buizon, Alexander Fernandez and Jesse Ayuste.

In September 2013, Eugenio filed a complaint against Quisumbing, alleging that she was hired by the respondent in 2008 as CHR Administrative Aide VI and that during her more than four years of employment, she and her officemates were always mistreated, shouted at and humiliated by Quisumbing.

She also alleged that Quisumbing would always get very angry at them for no reason, and then suddenly change her mood as if nothing happened.

In her complaint before Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Eugenio claimed that Quisumbing even made a script to serve as a guide on how to answer her questions to the whole office staff and that the former commissioner maintained several ghost employees.
She said she was promoted by Quisumbing on condition that her salary increase differential would be given to the former commissioner.

In July 2013, Eugenio resigned from her job as she could not anymore bear the maltreatment and oppression supposedly accorded to her by Quisumbing until she eventually filed the complaint with the Ombudsman, which sided with her.

Quisumbing assailed the Ombudsman ruling before the CA, citing alleged errors on the part of the anti-graft body.

In its August 26, 2015 decision, the appellate court stated that the Ombudsman was right when it ruled against Quisumbing.

“Considering that mere acceptance of anything of monetary value in connection with the functions of a public office is prohibited act under Section 7(d) of Republic Act 6713, no error can be imputed to the Ombudsman who found petitioner Quisumbing guilty under the said law,” the CA pointed out.

“It is well-settled that findings of fact and conclusions by the Office of the Ombudsman are conclusive when supported by substantial evidence, as in the present petition. Thus, we find no reason to overturn the [Ombudsman’s] assailed decision.”

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