- Core Committee of the National Conference for the Revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure
- Post-Trial Cluster Technical Working Group
Chel Diokno, 61, is a lawyer, educator, writer and human rights and justice advocate, who began his work in the late 1980s.
He served as a member of the presidential human rights committee, now the Commission on Human Rights, under former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos and as a presidential adviser on human rights to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines from 2017 to 2019.
Diokno also led the prosecution panel in the first impeachment trial against an elected president, Joseph Estrada, who was later ousted by the Second EDSA Revolution.
Since 2003, he has helmed the Free Legal Assistance Group which was co-founded by his late father Jose W. Diokno, a former senator and justice secretary, during Martial Law. FLAG's clients include activists and victims of human rights violations, including alleged victims of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs who the group represented before the SC, petitioning to have the campaign declared unconstitutional. The SC in 2019 ordered the government to submit the records and reports of the PNP investigations into about 3,800 deaths related to the assailed campaign to both the SC and the petitioners.
He also appeared before the SC as one of the 13 lawyers handpicked to argue the constitutional challenges brought by the 37 groups of petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Diokno is a founding dean of the College of Law at De La Salle University and has been teaching law since the late 1980s, giving free legal and paralegal seminars and consultations for members of disadvantaged and indigent communities and training lawyers at various government agencies.
He previously ran for the Senate in 2019 under the opposition Otso Diretso slate, but only garnered 6,342,939 votes and placed 21st out of 62 candidates.
Diokno is running under the Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino and has been included in the senatorial slates of the labor leader Leody de Guzman and Vice President Leni Robredo. He is also endorsed by the opposition coalition 1Samabayan.
He is campaigning primarily on reforming the judicial system, supporting ordinary workers and MSMEs, strengthening anti-corruption laws, improving public education, and transitioning the transportation sector to a “green” or more sustainable model.
The candidate's top priorities if elected to office, tracked against previous promises and accomplishments, if any
- Give each Filipino access to free legal aid in their barangay by passing a law to strengthen the barangay justice system to:
- Ensure that the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa works efficiently and professionally
- Establish training centers for Lupon members, both for improvement of mediation, conciliation and arbitration skills and administrative skills
- Pay the Lupon members adequately
- Strengthen the Lupon by getting lawyers to train and guide them
- Provide adequate support for the Lupon’s logistical and administrative needs
- Strengthen anti-corruption laws to ensure that abusive public officials and law enforcement officers are held accountable
- Pass an alternative penalties act, which would allow courts to impose alternative penalties (such as community service, home detention, rehabilitation or treatment, suspended sentences and exclusion orders) for minor offenses
In his 2019 Senate campaign, he promised to require policemen and soldiers lined up for promotion to have a clearance from the Commission on Human Rights
As chairman of FLAG since 2003, he has represented human rights victims, activists and journalists in both criminal cases and special proceedings
- Pass a pandemic management law
- Reform the healthcare system
- Provide sufficient na benepisyo sa healthcare frontliners
Established a “24/7 Free Legal Help Desk” via his Facebook page, which offers free legal advice (on family, property, income and benefits) on Apr. 5, 2021 and has since helped at least 19,000 people
- Support ordinary workers and MSMEs, through ayuda, unemployment insurance, business loans and modernized agriculture and local industries
- End of contractualization or endo
- Pass laws to provide sufficient and quality housing for the needy
- Pass an anti-discrimination law, to provide for equal access to education and livelihood
- Transition the transportation sector to a “green” or more sustainable and pro-user model, such as providing bike lanes, e-vehicles and wider use of renewable energy sources
- Pushing for amendment of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees to severely penalize officials who block the release of SALNs
- Pass a freedom of information law and other laws to ensure transparency in the use of public funds
In his 2019 Senate campaign, he promised to:
- Push for transparency in the appointment of judges by the Judicial and Bar Council through prohibiting backers and having deeper background checks for any potential conflict of interest
- Propose legislation to make mandatory the publicizing of judges and justices’ SALNs
In 2019, sought updates on the Marawi rehabilitation by requesting documentation from Task Force Bangon Marawi regarding the status of the restoration of utilities, rebuilding of private and public properties, as and actual donations and pledges
Protect the West Philippine Sea
- Filed a petition for writ of kalikasan seeking to order the government to protect specific areas of the West Philippine Sea
- Made a statement urging Pres. Duterte to be consistent to the 2016 arbitral award and international law in asserting its exclusive economic zone, to protect the Philippines’ food security and sovereignty
The candidate's top five accomplishments and contributions for the last 15 years or so
Diokno has worn many hats in public service, acting as litigant, rule-maker and adviser.
He first served as a member of the presidential human rights committee under former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.
From 2000 to 2001, Diokno led the prosecution panel, composed of lawmakers and lawyers, in the first impeachment trial against an elected president. President Joseph Estrada was impeached over accusations that he amassed about P240 million from public funds and receiving bribes from jueteng lords. On the evening of Jan. 16, 2001, Diokno and the rest of the prosecution panel walked out of the impeachment court in protest of the 11-10 vote not to open an envelope allegedly containing incriminating evidence against the president. The televised protest triggered the street demonstrations dubbed as EDSA II and eventually led to President Estrada’s resignation on Jan. 20, 2001.
In February 2021, false stories circulated online alleging that Diokno was an “accomplice” of ABS-CBN in a scheme to evade paying taxes. The false claim apparently arose when, in one lower house’s hearings on alleged loan write-offs by Development Bank of the Philippines in favor of the network, Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Michael Defensor read off names of attendees, including Diokno’s, in a 2004 DBP meeting on the supposed loan condonation.
Diokno admitted that he was a DBP consultant from 2004 to 2006 but said he only gave legal advice and had no decision-making power. Several members of Congress alleged that the country lost at least P1.6 billion after state-run DBP supposedly wrote off loans of the Lopez Group, which owns a big chunk of the network. DBP denied that condonation occurred, stating that the loans were sold to Lehman Brothers, an investment bank that collapsed during the 2008 global financial crisis. Lopez Holdings has maintained that it had paid all obligations with holders of the DBP loans.
Presidential Adviser on Human Rights, 2017-2019
- Member, 2013
- Chair, 2013
Special Counsel, Board of Directors, 2004-2006
Prosecutor and team leader, 2000-2001
On the evening of Jan. 16, 2001, the prosecution panel walked out of the impeachment court in protest of the 11-10 vote not to open an envelope allegedly containing incriminating evidence against the president. EDSA II protests began later that night and President Estrada resigned on Jan. 20, 2001
Diokno was the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and also taught at the Ateneo Law School.
For more than three decades, he has provided free legal and paralegal seminars and consultations for disadvantaged and indigent communities. He also gives legal training for government lawyers including the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Audit and the Public Attorney’s Office.
Diokno has been the chairman of FLAG since 2003. He and other FLAG lawyers represented retired Davao City police officer Arthur Lascañas, who made the February 2017 public confession and accusation about the alleged Davao Death Squad killings ordered by then-Davao City Mayor Duterte. After Lascañas went into hiding, Diokno and FLAG lawyers petitioned the SC on behalf of victims of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs to declare said campaign unconstitutional. In 2019, the SC ordered the government to submit the records and reports of the PNP investigations into about 3,800 deaths related to the assailed campaign to both the SC and the petitioners.
In 2019, during his first Senate campaign, Diokno and his co-counsels represented fishermen before the SC to ask for a writ of kalikasan to compel the government to preserve, restore and rehabilitate islands in the West Philippine Sea amid the dispute with China.
In July 2019, Solicitor General Jose Calida announced that 19 of the 40 fishermen had “disowned” the petition through sworn affidavits and in a video, supposedly after learning about the true nature of the case from watching the news and seeking help from the Philippine Navy’s lawyers. Diokno and his co-counsels were reprimanded by the SC after IBP counsel Andre Palacios admitted to not talking personally to any fisherman and Diokno said he had spoken with only three, since interviews were done by the local IBP chapter officers.
Diokno denied that they deceived the fishermen and blasted the government for talking to his clients behind his back to urge them to back out.
Amid Calida’s threats of disbarment charges, the IBP and Diokno withdrew the petition. The SC dismissed the petition and issued a stern warning to the lawyers that the commission of the same or similar infraction in the future would be dealt with more severely.
More recently, Diokno appeared before the SC as one of the 13 lawyers handpicked to argue the constitutional challenges brought by the 37 groups of petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
He has also been involved in non-litigation practice, serving as fiscal autonomy expert for the Asian Development Bank Project on capacity development for members of the Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group. He was also a member of the panel of arbitrators of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes from 2015-2021.
Diokno has written, edited and published articles and books such as, “The Model Pleadings of Jose W. Diokno (2020), “Civil and Administrative Suits as Instruments of Accountability for Human Rights Violations” (2010) and “Diokno on Trial: Techniques and Ideals of the Filipino Lawyer” (2007).
As FLAG chairman, Apr. 5, 2021
Provided free legal aid to at least 19,000 people from Apr. 5, 2021 until it was discontinued when Diokno decided to run for senator
Petitions filed in February 2021
On Dec. 9, 2021, the SC upheld the validity of all but two portions of two provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Senator Panfilo Lacson, author and principal sponsor, has said that the ruling is a win for him and other supporters of the law. Addressing criticism of the measure, he previously vowed dogged oversight over its implementation and said he would join protests on the streets if the law was ever abused.
Notable cases include:
- In 2017, petitions for prohibition, writs of amparo and injunction filed before the Supreme Court on behalf of family members of victims of the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs, asking the SC to declare as unconstitutional the PNP’s “Oplan Double Barrel”, which the petitioners allege allows police to “neutralize” suspected drug pushers instead of arresting and prosecuting them
- “1987 MV Doña Paz” case involving a ship carrying more than 4,000 people collided with another ship carrying fuel barrels on its way to Manila from Tacloban, Leyte; Diokno led the team of FLAG lawyers who represented the victims’ families
- In 2007, filed the first petition for a writ of amparo on behalf of the Manalo brothers, two farmers who were kidnapped and tortured allegedly by members of the military in 2006
- In 2019 and with IBP lawyers, filed a petition for writ of kalikasan on behalf of 40 fishermen to order the government to protect shoals in the West Philippine Sea; later, more than half of their clients backed out from the case supposedly after learning what the case was really about
- Secured the release of five men abducted in April 2006 under suspicion of being communist rebels and later charged with attempting to overthrow the Arroyo government, tagged as the “Tagaytay 5”
FLAG chairman and as co-counsel, 2003-present
FLAG continues to provide free legal services
- On Apr. 2, 2019, the SC ordered the government to submit to the SC, FLAG and other petitioners the records and reports involving the 3,800 deaths related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign that are being investigated by the PNP
- Families of the victims of the MV Doña Paz tragedy were given P200,000 for damages in March 2017
- The SC granted the first writ of amparo On Oct. 7, 2008
- Diokno and co-counsels withdrew the petition when their fishermen-clients filed affidavits disowning the petition; the SC dismissed the entire petition due to the withdrawal and sternly warned Diokno and the other lawyers not to repeat same or similar infractions or face more severe penalties
- In August 2008, the Tagaytay City Regional Trial Court dismissed the rebellion charges filed against the five men in 2006 and ordered their immediate release
Fiscal autonomy expert, 2015
Actions and/or proceedings pending against or resolved in courts or tribunals involving the candidate, based on publicly available information
Resolved Actions and/or Proceedings
|Subject Matter||Relevant Dates||Accrued Liability||Status|
Inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice
The PNP-CIDG filed complaints against Diokno, Vice President Leni Robredo, and 35 other persons including some opposition senators and candidates (mostly belonging to the Liberal Party and staff) over “Project Sodoma” and the viral “Bikoy” videos tagging President Duterte and his family in the illegal drug trade
All persons accused denied involvement, citing harassment by the government
|Charges filed on July 18, 2019||The DOJ dropped the charges against Diokno, Vice President Robredo, Senators Hontiveros and De Lima and other Otso Diretso senatorial bets due to lack of probable cause on Feb. 10, 2020|
Also known as SALN, this document is a declaration of one's personal finances. Philippine Law requires the SALN to be submitted by all public officials and employees to the Ombudsman. Public officials and employees may opt to voluntarily disclose their SALN to the public.
Key details about the candidate's campaign
- Included in the senatorial slate of the Leody de Guzman-Walden Bello tandem
- Included in the senatorial slate of the Leni Robredo-Francis Pangilinan tandem
- Endorsed by the 1Sambayan coalition
Candidate's major donors and campaign funding sources
The candidate's top advocacies in the last 15 years or so
- In 2021, Diokno wrote a letter to the International Criminal Court questioning the ICC’s decision to temporarily suspend its investigation into the killings related to the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs based on the representations made by the Philippine government of its ongoing investigations into 52 killings from 2016 to 2020, which is a small fraction of the reported killings covered by the ICC probe
- Criticized the “pasaway” narrative used by some members of the Philippine government used to explain the continued increase in COVID-19 cases by July 2020, remarking that the PNP had been linked to several controversies in the first few months of the pandemic, even while the PNP acted as lead agency in enforcing quarantine protocols
- FLAG tracked and reported that at least 61 lawyers have been killed under the Duterte administration from 2016 to Mar. 10, 2021, 26 tagged as work-related (or in connection to legal practice), 15 as drug-related (or victim was known to represent alleged drug personalities or was alleged to have been a drug personality), 12 due to personal motives and 15 due to unknown reasons
As FLAG chairman and co-counsel
1. Earlier in 2021, Duterte stated that ICC investigators will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.
On Nov. 10, 2021, the Philippine government filed a deferral request with the ICC, based on the principle of complementarity, manifesting its intention to pursue the prosecution of cases filed or will be filed against erring police and others within local jurisdiction, or about 6,000 cases that the DOJ will begin to review.
The ICC has temporarily suspended its probe while assessing the scope and effect of such deferral request. Such delay has dismayed activists, urging the ICC to not allow a blatant ruse to further deprive victims and their families of a judicial recourse that domestic investigation by Duterte allies will never fully permit.
2. Top lawyers called for stronger government action to address the killings of and attacks on lawyers. In March 2021, the Office of the Court Administrator directed judges of the first and second level courts to conduct an inventory of cases involving violence against lawyers. The DOJ is also doing its own inventory
- Advocated for equal access to justice, regardless of class status by promoting free legal aid through FLAG and his 24/7 online legal help desk established in 2021
- Pushed for the speedy resolution of cases by proposing to have a higher budget in the judiciary, incentivizing lawyers to work for the government through higher salaries
- Proposed an expansion of the arbitration mode of resolution to commercial cases
- Brought up the need to amend the witness protection program of the government to lessen dropouts by proposing to preserve statements made by whistleblowers within six months
Throughout his legal career and as senatorial candidate in 2019
- Improve public education, including giving necessary support and resources for public school teachers and students
- Pass the magna carta for children
As a senatorial candidate in 2022
As a senatorial candidate in 2022
Basic information on the candidate's family, background and work experience
- Jose “Ka Pepe” W. Diokno (deceased), father, former senator and justice secretary
- Carmen Icasiano Diokno (deceased), mother
- Jose Ramon
- Pat Diokno
- Maria Socorro
- Jose Miguel
- Maria Victoria
- Popoy Diokno
- Maria Serena Icasiano Diokno, former chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines
Information on other siblings not available
- Pepe Diokno, filmmaker
- Abe Diokno, entrepreneur & consultant
- Ian Diokno, student, independent music artist
- Julio Diokno, student
- Laya Diokno
- Inez Diokno, product designer (UX/UI)
●Admitted to the Bar, State of Illinois, USA, 1986
●Admitted to the Bar, Republic of the Philippines, 1988
●Juris Doctor of Laws; Northern Illinois University; 1986
●Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy; University of the Philippines - Diliman; 1983
●Presidential Adviser on Human Rights, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 2017-2019
●Member, Panel of Arbitrators, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, 2015-2021
●Fiscal Autonomy Expert, Asian Development Bank Project on capacity development for members of the Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group, 2015
●Member, Supreme Court Core Committee of the National Conference for the Revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure, 2013
●Chair, Post-Trial Cluster Technical Working Group,2013
●Founding Dean, De La Salle University College of Law, 2010-2019
●Special Counsel, Board of Directors, Development Bank of the Philippines, 2004-2006
●Chairman, Free Legal Assistance Group, 2003-present
●General Counsel, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (or the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations), 2001-2004
●Member, Presidential Human Rights Committee (now, the Commission on Human Rights) under former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos
●Solo practitioner, Diokno Law Office, 1988-1991, 2006-present
●Partner and Head of Litigation, Moncupa, Diokno & de los Reyes Law Firm (1996-2001)