Jose Manuel Diokno

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Jose Manuel Diokno
Born Jose Manuel Icasiano Diokno
(1961-02-23) February 23, 1961 (age 56)
Occupation Lawyer, Academic
Years active 1986 — Present

Jose Manuel "Chel" Icasiano Diokno (born February 23, 1961) is the Founding Dean of De La Salle University College of Law, Chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, former Special Counsel of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, and one of the Philippines' foremost human rights lawyers.

Early life and education[edit]

Diokno was born on February 23, 1961, the eighth of ten children by Senator Jose W. Diokno and his wife Carmen Icasiano. He was a teenager when his family suffered under Martial Law, but Chel managed to graduate in high school with honors, was president of the La Salle Green Hills student council, and a Gerardo Roxas Leadership Awardee.[1]

After earning a degree in Philosophy at the University of the Philippines, Diokno studied law at the Northern Illinois University (NIU) in the US where he graduated Juris Doctor of Laws, magna cum laude, in 1986.[2]

Diokno took the Bar Examination in the State of Illinois and passed.[1] But his heart never left the Philippines. In 1987, Chel returned to the country. He passed the Philippine Bar Exam and immediately took up the cause of human rights. Chel joined the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) — the Philippines' oldest and largest group of human rights lawyers — which his father had organized.[3]

Public service[edit]

In the 1990s, Diokno served on the Presidential Human Rights Committee 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).[1]

In 2001, Diokno was team leader and private prosecutor in the impeachment proceedings against then-President Joseph Estrada. That same year, he became General Counsel of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation). And in 2004, he was appointed Special Counsel of the Development Bank of the Philippines.[1]

Notable cases[edit]

As a practicing lawyer, Diokno has won numerous cases on behalf of the public interest. He is the counsel of Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada, NBN/ZTE whistleblower, and lead witness in the Ombudsman's cases against former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) head Romulo Neri and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Benjamin Abalos.[4]

In 2007, Diokno made history when he, along with fellow FLAG lawyers Theodore O. Te and Ricardo A. Sunga III, successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to issue its first Writs of Amparo for Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, two brothers who were allegedly picked up and tortured by agents of the Philippine military.[5]

The following year, Diokno won the release of members of the "Tagaytay 5," men who were illegally detained by the Philippine National Police.[6] Diokno and Atty. Te also represented media organizations in a petition against the Arroyo administration. The case brought together members of ABS-CBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Probe Productions, Newsbreak, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, among others.[7]


With his expertise in litigation, in 2006, Diokno set up the Diokno Law Center. It provides valuable legal training to agencies such as the Comelec, the Public Attorney's Office, the Philippine National Police, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, and the IBP.

In 2009, Diokno founded the De La Salle University College of Law, with the aim of develop leaders who are committed to upholding the rights of Filipinos. He has served as the College's Dean since 2009.[1]

Diokno has written two books: Diokno On Trial: The Techniques And Ideals Of The Filipino Lawyer (The Complete Guide To Handling A Case In Court), published by the Diokno Law Center in 2007; and Civil And Administrative Suits As Instruments Of Accountability For Human Rights Violations, published by the Asia Foundation in 2010. He has also written extensively on forensic DNA, electronic evidence, anti-terrorism legislation, media law, and judicial reform.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Chel and his wife, writer Divina Aromin, have been married for 24 years. They have six children. The eldest, Pepe, is the internationally awarded filmmaker.



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Atty. Diokno's CV (as of November 2010)". We Support Atty. Chel Diokno for Ombudsman. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  2. ^ {{Cite web . There, he received an American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in the Study of Contracts, became a member of the NIU Law Review, and interned at the Office of the State Appellate Defender. | last = | first = | authorlink = | title = DLSU College of Law - Faculty List | work = | publisher = DLSU College of Law | date = 2010-11-05 | url = | doi = | accessdate = 2011-05-15}}
  3. ^ Geronimo, Jee (2011-05-13). "Ombudsman search: Diokno is no joke". Newsbreak. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  4. ^ Manahan, Ruben (2009-04-30). "Police arrest Jun Lozada". Manila Times. Manila Times. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  5. ^ Panaligan, Rey (2007-10-26). "Supreme Court, QC RTC issue 1st Writs of Amparo". Manila Bulletin. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  6. ^ Calleja, Niña Catherine (2008-08-29). "Tagaytay 5 freed; rebellion case 'nonexistent'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  7. ^ Jimenez-David, Rina (2008-01-29). "Who's publicity-hungry?". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-05-15.