La Salle Brothers endorse Chel Diokno
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2018 - 12:00am

Manuel “Chel” Diokno is the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and heads FLAG, a human rights group. He is also the son of Sen. Jose W. Diokno, political icon and outstanding La Salle alumnus. Recently, two La Salle Brothers endorsed his bid for the Senate. Here are their statements of support in remarks delivered by Br. Victor Franco, FSC, president of De La Salle Green Hills:

This morning when my administrative assistant handed me my schedule for the day, I found this entry, “6.00 dinner with Senator Chel Diokno.” Looks like she can read the future.

Two weeks ago our LSGH NCAA Junior Basketball team was playing for the championship. The team had fought back from a 15-point deficit and tied the score. But towards the last few seconds of the game our opponents were leading by three points.  Then, with five seconds to go, we had possession of the ball. There was hope! A 3-point shot would have tied the game, bringing it into overtime. We had five seconds to do it. The ball was inbounded, a 3-point shot was attempted, and incredibly, it went in! Jubilation and hope erupted on the La Salle side. Then after a long huddle, the referees gave their verdict. Shot not counted. It was too late. Two seconds more would have made the difference. If we had just seven seconds instead of five, the game would have been tied.

Why am I bringing this up? To remind us that time is running out. How long will it be before our dear country spirals into a values wasteland? How long will it take for us to realize that the scourge of illegal drugs cannot be driven out by massacring poor, helpless people? How long will it be before our laws and our judicial system get entirely trampled upon by a sly, bullying power? Or how long will it be before we become China’s appendage for this part of the world?

There was a time, in my younger years, when we were proud of the men who represented us in the Senate, men like Lorenzo Tañada, Emmanuel Pelaez, Raul Manglapus, Soc Rodrigo, Manuel Manahan, and of course, Pepe Diokno, to name a few.

Today all you need to make it to the Senate is to carry the same name as another politician, regardless of that politician’s track record or values. Of course, it also helps if you’ve been in the entertainment business or sports.

There was a time, not long ago, when a brave widow challenged a hardened dictator and made us proud to be Filipinos, to raise our heads high with dignity. Today... Today... I leave it to you to complete the sentence.

I asked Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, former Secretary of Education, whether I could plagiarize a talk of a similar nature he gave two weeks ago. In that talk, Br. Armin recalled the Biblical account of the young, fearless David facing the grotesque Goliath.

I now quote lengthily from Br. Armin.

“The shadow cast by this terrifying Goliath has also infected many of us with fear. Amidst the killings, many of us kept quiet, many of us looked the other way to avoid retribution, and many of us simply silently prayed for it to be over. Many, but not all of us...

However terrifying the circumstances, Dean Chel Diokno rose to defend the rights of the poor, the marginalized, the powerless, the oppressed – the victims of the drug war. Through his free legal assistance group (FLAG), he has defended and assisted farmers, laborers, teachers, students, journalists, and now, EJK victims.

Whenever there is a great injustice in society, whenever the rights and dignities of our fellow human beings are trampled upon, we always look for heroes or knights in shining armor to fight for us, to inspire us. But if we are to revisit the story of David and Goliath, it wasn’t another giant that defeated Goliath. It was a simple shepherd armed only with a slingshot, who defeated him.

Dean Chel Diokno is a teacher and a lawyer. He is not a politician. He doesn’t have an army but is armed only with the law and the truth. He is a simple human being, just like the rest of us. But he is in touch with his basic humanity. He understands that human rights and human dignity are inalienable to every single individual.  

True to this commitment to uphold and respect human dignity, he founded the De La Salle University College of Law and highlighted human rights and legal aid as an integral component of the curriculum.

Dean Chel Diokno, thank you for lending your voice to the powerless and the oppressed. Thank you for showing us courage, despite our fears and thank you for taking on the task of reinstituting justice in our public institutions. It is your principles that we need in our public offices that we may return it to serving the cause of justice. It is your voice that we need in public discourse, that we may veer away from the cursing and refocus societal goals towards rescuing our humanity. Just like the shepherd David who stood up against Goliath, just like the peaceful movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, just like Dean Chel, we are all here as human beings who will join in fighting the fear, fighting for justice, and standing up for the human dignity of all Filipinos.”  

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell has a book entitled “David and Goliath” with the subtitle, “Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling faints.” I think we all know that Chel is an underdog, given the peso power and chicanery of many of the other candidates and we are the “misfits,” if we are to go by the popularity surveys of the incumbents. So, we are indeed battling giants.  

But let us also draw hope from Gladwell’s assertion that “... so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.” When I started out, I said I fear that time is running out. These words of the Kundirana’s classic song ring in my ears:

So many voices, waiting to be heard

Crying out loud but no one seems to care

So many questions, but where are the answers?

Look at the sky, it seems to be getting darker

We must be one today, to save tomorrow, before it’s too late

Look at the children the future we face is what we give them

One today to save tomorrow, before it’s too late.

Indeed let us “be the one today.” Let us be the slingshot that will propel Chel Diokno to the Senate.

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on December 8 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone session) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration, email

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