Former CHR commissioner walks on graft, bribery charges

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    THE Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Human Rights commissioner Cecilia Quisumbing of graft, bribery charges, and unlawfully soliciting/accepting money filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016.

    The anti-graft court’s Second Division said evidence presented by the prosecution fell short of proving all the elements of the criminal offenses charged.

    Quisumbing was accused of endorsing the promotion of her staff Ma. Regina Eugenio to a higher position but she allegedly collected the difference in the latter’s salary from January to July 2013 totaling P41,292.85.

    However, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that Quisumbing was not the approving authority in the complainant’s promotion but the chairman of the Commission on Human Rights.

    “Her participation, if any, was merely recommendatory,” the court pointed out.

    There was also an absence of proof that Quisumbing received money in exchange for doing something or not doing something, which is an essential element of a bribery charge.

    The complainant and her sister, who also testified for the prosecution, told the court that there was an agreement between them and the accused that the salary differential of Eugenio will be pooled and placed under Quisumbing’s custody.

    “Wherefore, for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused Cecilia Rachel Valera Quisumbing in all the charges, accused is hereby acquitted,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    The court nonetheless issued a reminder as a final note: “Although it is not criminal in nature, it does not suit well that as then Commissioner, Quisumbing allowed herself to act as custodian of the monies. This act is unethical and inappropriate.”

    Quisumbing was ordered to return the sum of P41,292.85, which it turned out has been kept untouched in an envelope in her desk after she stepped down.