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7 questions with Chel Diokno

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

The Philippines’ foremost human rights lawyer and 2022 senatorial candidate shares his thoughts on values, fighting for our rights, and other things in between. Interview by Donna Patricia Manio, Manila, photos courtesy of De La Salle University

Being a public servant at heart is something innate to Chel Diokno, being the son of the late Philippine senator and Justice Secretary J.W. Diokno—also known as “Ka Pepe--- who is regarded as the "Father of Human Rights Advocacy in the Philippines.”

As the current chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, founding dean of De La Salle University College of Law, and contender for the 2022 senatorial race, Chel Diokno offers a breath of much-needed fresh air in Philippine politics.

After practicing law in the United States, Atty. Jose Manuel Icasiano Diokno Diokno returned to the Philippines and served in the Commission on Human Rights under Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos. He was also a member of the Committee on Human Rights and Due Process at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

Roots and Wings catches up with the lawyer and educator to know more.

1. I decided to run for senator because...

I want to offer an alternative to the people, someone who is not a traditional politician, someone who loves his country very much and wants to make it a nation for our children.

2. In terms of human rights in the country, I wish more Filipinos...

would understand that human rights is all about empowering the poor and ensuring that abusers are held accountable.

3. Human rights is important in the Philippines now more than ever because...

it is the cornerstone of genuine human development.

4. The most important thing that I learned from my father values-wise is...

to love my country, respect the dignity of all persons, and empathize with those who have less in life.

At the the Ka Pepe Diokno Human Rights Awards [L-R]: De La Salle Philippines President Br. Armin Luistro FSC, the late former President Benigno Aquino III, professor and journalist Dr. Randy David, Vice President and 2022 presidentiable Leni Robredo, Nobel Peace Prize winner and journalist Maria Ressa, De La Salle University President Br. Berni Oca FSC, and human rights lawyer and 2022 senatorial candidate Atty. Chel Diokno.

5. As an educator, the one thing I want my students to learn is...

that they must not only learn the techniques but also the ideals of the law.

6. A good lawyer is...

one who always respects the dignity of the human being and always strives to do what is just.

7. Voting wisely is very important because...

your vote can spell the difference between a democratic and a despotic government.

Atty. Jose Manuel Icasiano Diokno, also known as “Chel” to his peers and contemporaries, is an educator at heart. As the founding dean of De La Salle University College of Law, he always emphasizes the importance of mentoring future lawyers who have a deep respect for human rights.

Chel Diokno is the current chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization that provides free legal aid to the underprivileged.

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