Chel Diokno

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Jose Manuel Tadeo "Chel" Icasiano Diokno (born 23 February 1961) is a Filipino lawyer, educator, and human rights advocate. He is the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law. He was also a special counsel of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

He filed his candidacy on 7 October 2021 for another Senate bid in 2022. He is running under the Katipunan ng Nagkaisang Pilipino. He aims to make justice within the reach of everyone and promises to strengthen alternatives to court proceedings, arbitration, mediation, and the barangay justice system.

Early Life and Education

He was born on 23 February 1961 in Pasay City as the eighth of the ten children of Carmen “Nena” Icasiano and human rights lawyer, nationalist, and former Senator Jose W. Diokno. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno is the Father of Human Rights in the Philippines and intellectual leader of the opposition against the Ferdinand Marcos regime.

Chel is the great-grandson of Ananias Diokno, the leader of the Visayans during the Philippine-American War, and of Ramon Diokno, a nationalist and former Senator and Supreme Court Associate Justice.

Chel’s sister, Maris, is a senior administrator at the University of the Philippines (UP) System and a former chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

He completed his primary and secondary education at La Salle Greenhills (LSGH). He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of the Philippines Diliman and studied at the University of the Philippines College of Law. He graduated Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from the Northern Illinois University (NIU) in 1986. He passed the Bar of State of Illinois in 1987. He went back to the Philippines after his father’s death and took the Bar Examinations of 1988. He passed the exams and started law practice the following year.


Upon his return to the Philippines in 1987, he served as a lawyer and human rights advocate. He handled landmark cases and has been a regular amicus curiae in the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC). Among the notable cases he handled were:

  • Prosecuted 27 police officers implicated in the 1995 Kuratong Baleleng rubout case
  • Counsel of Jun Lozada, the NBN-ZTE Deal 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.
  • Along with fellow FLAG lawyers Theodore Te and Ricardo Sunga III, they petitioned and were granted by the SC to issue Writs of Amparo for leftists Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, who were allegedly tortured by agents of the military.
  • Won the release of the “Tagaytay 5,” leftist activists illegally detained by the Philippine National Police (PNP)
  • He and Attorney Te represented media organizations in a petition against the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration for allegedly being rounded up for their “illegal” coverage of the Manila Peninsula Siege.
  • He and Attorney Te served as main lawyers of Maria Ressa of Rappler against the Rodrigo Duterte administration.
  • Fought against the MV Doña Paz, which suffered the biggest maritime disaster in history, which helped provide compensation to victims and their families.

Diokno served as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) under former Presidents Corazon C. 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).

In 2001, he was the private prosecutor in the impeachment proceedings against former President Joseph Estrada. He then became General Counsel of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee under Senator Joker Arroyo. He was appointed Special Counsel at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in 2004.

Diokno also served as Presidential Adviser on Human Rights at the IBP and was a member of the Panel of Arbitrators at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

In 2006, he set up the Diokno Law Center to provide legal training to agencies such as the COMELEC, the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the IBP.

In 2009, he established the De La Salle University College of Law and became its Founding Dean.

Senate Bid

Diokno first sought a Senate seat in 2019 under Otso Diretso. All of the eight opposition candidates failed to win a slot in the upper chamber and lost to allies of the Duterte administration.

He filed his candidacy on 7 October 2021 for another Senate bid in 2022. He is running under the Katipunan ng Nagkaisang Pilipino. He was taunted by President Duterte for his overbite but Diokno instead used it to bring his platform closer to the public. He emphasized that the toothless and rotten system must be fixed to help the healthcare system and livelihood severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that law must be applied but not abused.

He is the chairman of the Free Legal Helpdesk, which provides free legal assistance to those in need. They have assisted over 14,000 people.


Diokno fights for human rights in his law practice with FLAG, as counsel to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, and in his role as the founding Dean of the DLSU College of Law.

He has also taken a stand against the “historical negationism” and “denialism” on the Martial Law era under Ferdinand Marcos.


Justice System

  • He calls for the PAO to be more professional in gathering evidence for cases especially when they handled the Dengvaxia issue.
  • He criticizes the Duterte administration for controlling all branches of the government including the judiciary.
  • He wants the judiciary to be more transparent with budget use and believes the prohibition on Ombudsman to investigate member of the Bench must be changed.
  • He believes that the lack of judges is a problem of the judiciary.
  • He aims to provide justice for all by strengthening the Barangay Justice System which is cheaper and faster alternative to resolve cases. To do this, proper training and assistance will be provided to Barangay Captains.
  • He believes that to make the resolution of cases faster, the shortage of judges and prosecutors must be addressed, and the budget for the Judiciary must be increased.
  • He aims to suppress corruption by making Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) public and by making the Ombudsman’s power to investigate hues and magistrates strengthened.
  • He aims to strength the Witness Protection Act and to allow “automatic perpetuation.”
  • He is against death penalty for drug-related crimes.
  • He is against the lowering of age of criminal responsibility.
  • He is a vocal critic of war on drugs.

Pandemic Justice

  • He aims to provide or continue the provision of financial aid to those in need especially the small businesses.
  • He aims to create Magna Carta for Children to protect their rights.
  • He aims to widen and maximize care for the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
  • He aims to continue the provision of 4Ps conditional cash transfer especially to those in need.
  • He aims to push for the Anti-Discrimination Bill and to provide enough funding for the implementation of Magna Carta of Women, Reproductive Health Law, Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, 100-Day Maternity Law, and Barangay Micro-Business Enterprises Law.

Economic Justice

  • He aims to stop “endo.”
  • He aims to push for pro-poor modernization program in agriculture to provide for the technological needs of small-scale farmers.
  • He aims to push for a transportation policy focused on movement of people instead of movement of cars.
  • He aims for cheap and reliable internet without the need to sacrifice security and privacy.
  • He opposes the excise tax in TRAIN Law as it resulted to rising cost of goods.


  • He aims to strengthen the community’s capacity to participate in learning especially when everyone is in quarantine. As important as barangay health worker is the barangay teaching assistant or community members who can be trained to help students learn.
  • He aims to provide enough nutrition to students.
  • He aims to push for the training of teachers to further enhance their skills and expertise to improve the quality of education.

Democratic Institutions

  • He aims to accelerate the decentralization of power to expand people’s participation in social decision-making while strengthening the accountability of their leaders.
  • He aims to reform campaign finance and other measures to ensure fair fight for all candidates.
  • He believes wider term limits should be imposed on public officials to avoid political dynasties.

Climate Justice

He fights for nature and climate justice by synchronizing the proper use of natural resources while protecting them for future generations of Filipinos.

He also aims to focus on issues connected to water, energy, and mining.

Independent Foreign Policy

  • He aims to enforce arbitral rulings regarding the property and rights of Filipinos on the West Philippine Sea.
  • He aims to protect the livelihood of Filipino fishermen.
  • He aims to provide care and protection to marine environment.
  • He aims to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine Navy.


  • Diokno On Trial: The Techniques And Ideals Of The Filipino Lawyer (The Complete Guide To Handling A Case In Court)
  • Civil And Administrative Suits As Instruments Of Accountability For Human Rights Violations
  • Model Pleadings of Jose W. Diokno Volume 1: Supreme Court

He has also written news articles on forensic DNA, electronic evidence, anti-terrorism legislation, media law, and judicial reform.


Diokno is married to writer Divina Aromin. Their eldest son, filmmaker Pepe, is named after his grandfather.


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  • “Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno joins 2022 Senate race”. CNN Philippines. (Accessed on 26 October 2021).
  • “Katarungan para sa mga nasawi sa Doña Paz”. Atty. Chel Diokno on YouTube. (Accessed on 26 October 2021).
  • “Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno”. Chel Diokno. (Accessed on 26 October 2021).
  • “Ang Ating Plataporma”. Chel Diokno. (Accessed on 26 October 2021).
  • Sarao, Zacarian.“Chel Diokno files candidacy for senator in 2022 national polls”. (Accessed on 26 October 2021).
  • "About Atty. Chel Diokno". YouTube.
  • "Candidate's Profile: Diokno, Chel". GMA News. 2019. Archived from the original on October 7, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  • "DLSU College of Law - Faculty List". DLSU College of Law. November 5, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  • Buan, Lian (September 15, 2021). "Trusting 'a lot has changed,' Chel Diokno tries again for Senate". Rappler. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  • Cepeda, Mara (October 15, 2021). "Robredo bares Senate slate, turns foes into allies vs Duterte". Rappler. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  • "Atty. Diokno's CV (as of November 2010)". We Support Atty. Chel Diokno for Ombudsman. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • Inquirer, Philippine Daily (2019-04-05). "Unique killings, same language, lawyers say of drug war reports". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  • "Meet Lascañas' battle-tested FLAG lawyers". Rappler. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  • "PHILIPPINES: THREATS/FEAR FOR SAFETY: JOSE MANUEL DIOKNO". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 2019-05-10. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  • Manahan, Ruben (2009-04-30). "Police arrest Jun Lozada". Manila Times. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • Panaligan, Rey (2007-10-26). "Supreme Court, QC RTC issue 1st Writs of Amparo". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • Calleja, Niña Catherine (2008-08-29). "Tagaytay 5 freed; rebellion case 'nonexistent'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • Jimenez-David, Rina (2008-01-29). "Who's publicity-hungry?". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • "17 of 50 Journalists rounded up from The Pen released". GMA News. 2007-11-29. Archived from the original on 2019-05-25.
  • Buan, Lian (2019-04-15). "Court junks Ressa appeal, says cyber libel valid 12 years post-publication". Rappler. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  • Geronimo, Jee (2011-05-13). "Ombudsman search: Diokno is no joke". Newsbreak. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
  • Takumi, Rie (2018-09-24). "Bongbong and Enrile's Martial Law video 'adding insult to injury' —Diokno family". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  • Gavilan, Jodesz (2018-09-21). "'Distortion of truth': Diokno family slams Bongbong Marcos, Enrile". Rappler. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  • Galvez, Daphne (2018-09-21). "Diokno family blasts Enrile's 'false' claims on martial law". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2018-10-13.



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