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Style Obscured Substance: When CocoQ Went Cuckoo (Updated With Coco’s Apology)

August 22, 2010


Human Rights commissioner Coco Quisumbing (Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing)has actually been doing a good job according to people involved in human rights advocacy.

Her mishandling of that impromptu news conference on the progress of the CHR investigation into that brutal torture of a suspected thief right inside the police precinct in Asuncion, Tondo was a regrettable case of style obscuring substance.

Quisumbing’s boorish behavior was all the more unbecoming given her background as a TV news anchor in the 70’s for then privately owned RPN-9.

This incident is another red flag for how people in positions of authority, public and private, should comport themselves.

The medium is itself the message and while news makers may not always expected to cultivate a lovey-dovey relationship with the working press, being or sounding imperious and self obsessed never works.

While Philippine media is, at times, licentious and with certain practitioners surely in need of continuing education in ethics and the law, the behavior and utterances of personages in the ‘firing line’ of reporters’ microphones and news cameras will define public appreciation or disdain for them and their offices.

Lesson learned.

(Note: I’ve corrected the earlier reference to CocoQ being lawyer after being informed by a reliable source that the good commissioner isn’t one.

The added question that now surfaces is why isn’t she one, yet.

(A check of the CHR web site which carries Ms. Quisumbing curriculum vitae indicates that she actually earned her LLB in 1993 but appears to have not yet taken the Bar examinations

Perhaps being a member of the Philippine Bar should be made a requisite.

A law degree, of course, is not a guarantee of GMRC.


Ms. Quisumbing has thought the incident through and this morning made a public apology via Ted Failan’s program on DZMM radio:

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.
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. Pagod and stress is no excuse. Our old chair who had more work was never like that.

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.

This should clear the air, we hope.

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