Chel Diokno joins Senate race


Posted at Oct 16 2018 10:54 AM | Updated as of Oct 16 2018 11:11 AM

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno arrives at the Comelec main office to file his certificate of candidacy for senator. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (UPDATED) De La Salle University College of Law founding dean Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno filed his certificate of candidacy for senator Tuesday. 

Diokno, one of the 10 children of late senator and Commission on Human Rights founding chair Jose "Pepe" Diokno, was among the 3 senatorial candidates earlier endorsed by Vice President Leni Robredo, former President Benigno Aquino III and other members of the Liberal Party.

Diokno registered his candidacy at the same time as fellow senatorial aspirant Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, daughter of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, whose strongman leadership was opposed by the elder Diokno. 

Asked about the governor's Senate bid, Diokno said: "Okay lang. Dati naman ay nagkakatapat na rin ang tatay ko at tatay niya e. Ganyan talaga." 

(It's alright. Our fathers had faced off with each other, too. That's just how things are.) 

Diokno said he will champion improving the country's justice system if he is elected senator. 

"Ang gusto ko maging kasama sa usapan natin ay hustisya, lalong lalo na ang hustisya para sa mahihirap," he said. 

"Hangga't di naayos ang sistema ng katarungan, wala tayong makikitang accountability."

(I want justice, especially justice for the poor, to be part of our conversation. Until the justice system is fixed, we will not be able to see accountability.) 


Diokno earned a Philosophy degree from the University of the Philippines and a Juris Doctor of Laws from the Northern Illinois University College of Law where he graduated magna cum laude.

A bar passer both in the Philippines and the United States, Diokno is executive director of the Diokno Law Center, and the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) that has been providing free legal assistance to human rights victims since its establishment in 1974.

He was among the legal counsels of retired Davao policeman SPO3 Arturo Lascañas who alleged that President Rodrigo Duterte formed and controlled the Davao Death Squad, which is reportedly responsible for hundreds of murders in Davao City.

Diokno is also part of the "Manlaban sa EJK", a coalition of lawyers, legal experts and law school associations that campaigns against extra-judicial killings, threats to freedom of expression and attacks against human rights defenders. 

The group was formed in 2017, a year after thousands of drug suspects were killed in Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

Other notable cases Diokno handled were the Kuratong Baleleng bank robbery case in 1995, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada's impeachment in 2000, and the anomalous NBN-ZTE deal under the Arroyo administration in 2007.

In 2011, Diokno was among the 4 candidates for Ombudsman shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council. He lost his bid for the post after then-President Aquino named former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as the replacement of Merceditas Gutierrez.

With a report from Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News