News Commentary

Remembering 'People's Dragon' Joker Arroyo

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Joker Arroyo, a human rights lawyer and freedom fighter, shocked the public of his sudden demise at the age of 88.

Arroyo, also known as "People's Dragon" or "Pipol's Dragon" and popular for his motto "'Pag bad ka, lagot ka!" left a legacy in fighting for freedom rights. He was born on Jan. 5, 1927 in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

After graduating at the Ateneo de Manila and UP College of Law, Arroyo served the public by handling more human rights cases than any other lawyer from 1972 to 1986.

His passion for human and freedom rights raised Arroyo's national consciousness that lead to challenging Proclamation 1080 imposing martial law before the Supreme Court. He questioned the 1973 Constitution promulgated after then President Ferdinand Marcos's declaration of military rule.



During the period of martial law, Arroyo defended several political detainees which include Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Eugenio Lopez Jr., Serge Osmeña III, Jose Maria Sison, Jovito Salonga, Nene Pimentel, Eva Kalaw, Renato Tañada, Eduardo Olaguer and many others.

For opposing Marcos's iron rule, Arroyo went through physical and mental torture. He was imprisoned in a military stockade, gassed, injured and hospitalized during protest rallies.

Arroyo also served as counsel of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino in the snap elections in 1986, co-founded MABINI and FLAG with other human rights lawyer, and became member of the American Bar Association and Senior Lawyers Division.

Prior to becoming a senator, Arroyo had gone through a long journey of serving the public. He first became the Executive Secretary in the Aquino cabinet from 1986 to 1992, chair of Philippine National Bank and as Executive Director for the Philippines in the Asian Development Bank from 1986 to1990, and even served as the 1st District of Makati from 1992 to 1998 before he stepped up as a senator in 2001.

During his three terms as a congressman for Makati, Arroyo obtained 80-percent of the votes cast in the election that earned him an Outstanding Congressman of the Year and the title "Scrooge of the Congress."

In his senatorial career, he also became remarkable for serving as the lead prosecutor during the impeachment trial of former President and current Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada.

The University Library on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 released an image from a yearbook showing Sen. Joker Arroyo, Bachelor of Laws of batch 1955. UP Library/The Philippinensian, 1955

Despite playing several roles and contributions in law profession and public service, Arroyo remained humble and true to his virtue. His statement of assets, liabilities and net worth says his wealth remained almost the same since he entered the public service in 1986 up to the present.

Arroyo gained several awards for his significant contributions, these include the Philippine Bar Association's Most Distinguished Award for Justice as a "man beholden to no one except to his country" and a Senate Resolution 100 enacted in the 8th Congress commending him for his invaluable services to the Filipino people.

Arroyo met his Creator late Monday due to heart attack. He passed away at an undisclosed hospital abroad.

RELATED: Lawyer, senator Joker Arroyo, 88

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