Stella Quimbo

In House of Representatives, Stella Quimbo’s office endures staff turnovers

Dwight de Leon

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In House of Representatives, Stella Quimbo’s office endures staff turnovers

TOUGH BOSS? Representative Stella Luz Quimbo presides over the appropriations committee hearing on the proposed budget of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for FY2024, on September 12, 2023.


Sources acknowledge that Quimbo’s office can be a volatile working environment, although some of them believe it’s completely understandable given how Congress works

Why are staff members leaving the legislative office of Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo? 

This is the question we asked the congresswoman on September 28 after we found out that her office has grappled with staff turnovers in recent years. 

In an office of four to six employees, at least five people have left in the past two years. Three current staff members are fresh graduates and are relatively new hires. Quimbo is still looking for a new chief of staff, which means she didn’t have one in the thick of the budget season – the most hectic time in the House.

Rachael Morala, still a consultant for Quimbo, confirmed that when she came in around March, staffers at the time were ready to call it quits.

“The early part of the year was a bit difficult because when I entered, there was a turnover of the team, everyone was on their way out,” she told Rappler. Morala was the most recent chief of staff until she herself stepped down from the post three months later to attend to an important family matter. 

Quimbo said some staff members left to pursue higher-paying jobs or further studies, reasons which were corroborated by some former staff members whom Rappler spoke with. 

The rumor inside and even outside of Congress is that Quimbo has not always been the easiest person to work with.

Three sources acknowledged that Quimbo’s office can be a volatile working environment, although some of them believe it’s completely understandable. 

“That’s just the call of duty, not just in Congresswoman Stella’s office but in all offices. There really are times you have to work overtime. It’s a basic expectation in any job, especially in Congress,” said lawyer Simoun Salinas, Quimbo’s former chief political affairs officer who left in 2020 to seek greener pastures. He still serves as a consultant in Quimbo’s office. 

“The term here in Congress is only three years. That attitude from her is very rare, to push as much as they can when it comes to reforms. For a congressperson, that’s a plus. She’s passionate and driven,” said Morala, who, like Salinas, still works as consultant. 

Not all former staffers share this point of view, though.

One former employee who chose to speak on condition of anonymity described Quimbo as a terror boss who raised her voice numerous times, demanded perfection at all costs, and made people feel inferior.

“I don’t know if I’m still gaslit until now. In fairness, she rationalized her behavior to us, telling us that’s how she is. I always felt that was normal, but when I left, I found out it’s not. She can make people fear her instantly,” the former insider said. “She’s the type of person who would make you feel the thing you just said is stupid.”

This ex-employee claimed that it became easier for them to quit once it became apparent that Quimbo – a former member of the House minority – began getting cozy with the Marcos administration. 

“The internal struggle on my end was strong. Before, we were excited every time we saw a discrepancy in the budget, because that meant we could flag potential corruption. When she changed, there was a heavy feeling. There were times I asked myself if I was being a sellout [for working under this person],” the unnamed source said.

Quimbo, once seen as an opposition figure, has been in hot water for backing the Maharlika Investment Fund and defending the allegedly unconstitutional release of confidential funds to the Office of the Vice President. 

But other staffers stand by her side, and are willing to vouch for her integrity.

“Never in my experience with her did she support a position, especially economic policies, without sound basis,” said Josh Ramos, Quimbo’s legislative staffer for nearly four years until he resigned in January. He’s now with another congressman. 

“If she sees a proposal as a reliable alternative, as sound and functional, even if it’s unpopular, even if there are allegations she was bribed, or that this was transactional in nature, she will still sleep better at night knowing she made her choice based on what she believed in,” Salinas added. 

Quimbo told Rappler she’s just misunderstood by the public on national issues she got dragged into. As for how she treats her staff, she didn’t deny that she may have raised her voice at times, but attributed it to life being stressful, and bad days being unavoidable.

“If you’re trying to say people can’t stand me, my secretary has been with me for 13 years, my driver for 15 years, all my helpers for 20 years,” she told Rappler. 

“There’s some who really can’t keep up with me. I’m a bullet train. They don’t like that I work 24/7, that’s who I am. If they don’t like that it’s too stressful, no love lost, but we continue to be friends. I don’t force people.” – 

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers the House of Representatives and the Commission on Elections for Rappler. Previously, he wrote stories on local government units.