Chel Diokno: He Can’t Take It Anymore

Chel Diokno [Photo source: Inquirer]

by Wilfredo G. Villanueva

I haven’t come across the name Chel Diokno. I loved his father, made me stand tall as a Filipino; I know Maris, she speaks on occasion, but Chel?

Aside from some information I picked up from an entry in Wikipedia, I knew nothing about Chel Diokno going into the interview. He is one of the eight senatorial candidates of the Liberal party-led coalition of oppositionists to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Chel has a lot on his plate if he wins, the slow wheels of justice and a sense of mind-boggling impunity among powerful people being major stumbling blocks to the country’s progress.

“I started legal education at 13,” he said, sitting beside me in Room 203 of De La Salle University Rufino campus in Bonifacio Global City, tucked away at the far end of our own little First World where you forget you are in the Philippines. But not in Room 203. The room’s panoramic glass window did not attempt to mask the decrepit homes at the back of it—East Rembo neighborhood—reeking of struggle and survival. The Third World is welcome, not shunned, in Room 203 no matter the embryonic comfort of the air conditioning and the muffled sound of footsteps on the carpeted interiors where cases are discussed with students drilled in human-rights lawyering—Dean Chel Diokno’s special mandate from the La Salle brothers—to produce lawyers to defend human rights. Human rights? In La Salle? Oh yes, La Salle isn’t the La Salle that my generation used to know. You’ve come a long way, baby.

And so has Chel. He’s a few years off the senior discount card, and when he takes off his nerdy glasses, you can see the legendary Jose Wright Diokno’s visage, senator of the republic when martial law was declared in ’72, a Marcos foe, detained without charges, released after two years.

The Diokno family in 1974, after Sen. Diokno was released from detention. Clockwise, from left: Pat, Cookie, Maitet, Maris, Nena, a weary Sen. Diokno, Mike, Chel, Martin, and Maia.

Quickly: Jose Manuel Icasiano Diokno or “Dean Chel” was born on February 23, 1961, the eighth of ten children by Senator Jose W. Diokno and his wife Carmen Icasiano. He was 11 years old when his father was picked up, his whole family would be strip-searched to visit his dad in detention, his dad was released when he was 13, donned kid-sized barong Pilipino to court where he sat beside his father in hearings. Despite the abnormal times, Chel managed to graduate in high school, was president of the La Salle Green Hills student council, and a Gerardo Roxas Leadership Awardee.

When Ninoy Aquino was shot in cold blood in 1983 he was 22 and a graduate of philosophy in the University of the Philippines, and Ka Pepe sent off his son to the ‘States to study law. He graduated magna cum laude in Northern Illinois University in 1986, passed the state bar, went back home, passed the bar exams here, and the rest of his life up to this time was spent almost in pro bono cases centered on high-profile violations of human-rights, until in 2018 in Duterte time, he couldn’t take it anymore, and has pulled the Excalibur from the rock of national apathy in a war for survival in a Philippines gone mad with the poison of EJK, the mother of all human-rights violations, all 20,000 to 30,000 of them.

He heads FLAG—Free Legal Assistance Group—is founding dean of De La Salle University College of Law and was special counsel in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in the 13th Congress (2001-2004).

For the interview, I asked my Facebook friends to send to me their questions, and here they are.

Le’o Molina Cabrera: Why only now?

Chel: I never had any ambition to become a politician. Wala sa lahi namin ang mag-establish ng political dynasty. None of us in the family since my father’s time has filed a candidacy. Bakit ngayon lang? I couldn’t sit still anymore and remain silent as a human-rights lawyer.

(Wait. Before I proceed any further, a tidbit on Senator Jose W. Diokno. I listened to him talk, mesmerized, in the Assumption College auditorium in 1983, after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. Until now I remember Sen. Diokno tell the audience about his hometown in Batangas. “We have no stores owned by Chinese. We don’t want them, won’t allow them,” he said in flawless English. He’ll go ballistic with the way things are going now, China in soft-invasion mode, grabbing islands, ensconcing themselves in jobs and condominium units, and local girls.)

Will: You don’t break out in the papers at all?

Chel: The cases of Lascañas, Lozada, koratong baleleng… I was there. It really depends on the cases I have.

Will: Pinapanalo mo ba ang mga kaso mo?

Chel: Ang human rights cases ang pinaka-dehado, kasi ang kalaban mo gobyerno, at walang pera rito, puro pro bono lahat (client has no financial obligation to his lawyer). But yes, I have several wins, not spectacular, but clear wins.

Will: How did you manage to make ends meet, with pro bono cases?

Chel: I also handle private cases; I worked full-time in a law firm. I was also employed in the Senate as general counsel.

At Liberal Party rally with leadership and members. Chel is at the far right.

Ninalex Lacson: May I know a little more about you? Siguro yung medyo mala-showbiz para people will take notice.

Chel: Mala-showbiz? Hahaha! Wala naman ako…

Will: Papano mo aatakehen itong kasong ito? Dapat mala-showbiz ka, pare. Hindi nga, kakanta ka ba?

Chel: (Laughing) Kumanta na ako ba, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac sa Red Octoberfest.

Will: Enjoy ka?

Chel: Okay lang. It was a different experience. Sanay ako sa entablado, pero hindi ‘yun.

Will: Hindi ka na-off?

Chel: Hinda naman, sana next time yung may social meaning naman.

Chel: Aside from practicing law, I love to play badminton. I have a black belt in aikido…

Will: (Jaw drops) Hanggang ngayon, praktisado ka?

Chel: I still do, from time to time.

Will: Maraming tournament? Delikado ka pala makaharap…

Chel: It’s called first dan, unang level ng black belt, my teacher was a Filipino accredited by a Japanese.

Will: Ano pa?

Chel: Love reading books.

Will: Last book read?

Chel: What am I reading now, nakalimutan ko…

Will: Filipino author?

Chel: Pag Filipino, I’m reading a book about the language used in the Philippine revolution (against Spain), and how there were two streams of language, yung mas masa na galing sa Katipunan, ang salita nila, “inang bayan”, ang mga elite, the likes of Emilio Jacinto, the western concept of “nacion” or nation.

Will: Hindi nagblend yung dalawang concepts?

Chel: Parang ganun. Hindi nag-blend, so interesting, it’s written in Tagalog, language ang pinag-aaralan.

Kirsten Mureen Cavada: How to be you?

Chel: Read a lot, meet a lot of people, immerse yourself in the law if that’s your discipline, make sure that everything you do is something you can live with later on.

Will: About the Marcoses, can I go on-record?

Chel: Hmm. (Smiling.)

Will: Ano ang pakiramdam mo kapag Bongbong ang pinaguusapan. Do you also boil inside like us?

Chel: It was torture to watch that video (referring to the Bongbong Marcos’s tête-à-tête with Juan Ponce Enrile).

Will: Tingin talaga nila sa atin mga mangmang…

Chel: Hay naku…

Perla Huber: The Diokno name has magic. Your father was very well respected. Please tell us about yourself. Let the young ones know about you.

Chel: I grew up as a son of a senator, so I was privileged, until when I was 11 years old. On Sept. 22, 1972, around 11 p.m., soldiers came to our house and “invited” our father. I was awake at that time, it so happened my elder siblings had friends over. The officer said: “Sir, we are inviting you to the camp.” My father answered, “Is this an invitation I can refuse?” The officer said, “No.” That was the last time I saw him as a free man. He was a prisoner for the next two years until his release on Sept. 11, 1974.

Chel: In jail, the military would change its guidelines for our visits every so often. On some Sundays, we were allowed to visit, on some, no. When we visited, we were stripped naked, from the youngest member of the family to the oldest. Lalaki din ang sundalong magse-search kung lalaki ang family member, babae kung babae.

Will: Was your father religious?

Chel: He was more religious than I am. When he was in isolation in Fort Magsaysay, his rosary, pipe and tobacco were taken from him and he was only allowed to have them after supper. After praying, he has to return the rosary to the military custodians.

Chel: I began my legal education at 13 years old when Dad was released from detention in 1974. He handled FLAG cases, having founded it. I would wear a polo barong, I was even allowed to sit in the counsel’s table, so feeling ko, abogado na ako.

Will: Kasama pati ibang kapatid mo?

Chel: Ako lang ang may hilig, at an early age. From that time, every summer break, I would be sent to interview the witnesses, later, I read case files. I worked at my father’s law office. Nasa college pa lang ako noon.

Will: You are your father’s son!

Chel: (Soft laughter) When he would have court hearings, the court room was filled to the brim, all judges would watch. Minsan pa nga, at the height of martial law, Dad had a client charged with a political offense. Yung judge ang tumayo nung pumasok ang Dad sa kwarto. Sabing ganun nung client: “Naku may panalo tayo dito, yung judge pa nga ang tumayo.”

(To be continued. Link to Part 2.)

89 Responses to “Chel Diokno: He Can’t Take It Anymore”
  1. arlene says:

    I love this. The Chel Diokno that I was not even aware of. You put a face to a lovely and precious character Will. Thanks JoeAm for the feature. Good morning!

  2. Thanks, Will. I can imagine from what school of thought the book is Chel Diokno is reading now. It is true that the native world of ideas and concepts differs from that of the educated. Someone in East Rembo will not get what rule of law means, unless maybe helped by FLAG once – or will see it negatively if all it meant was an eviction orders and bulldozers. What is democracy for many poor except the chance to earn an “Aquino” for a sold vote? But good to see awareness growing, even La Salle caring about human rights, not just business/money. Sadly, a documentary about West and East Jerusalem I once watched reminded me of the worlds apart in Manila. Good there are those who try to bridge the divide – which also produced Duterte! Awaiting the next part!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Okay, Irineo. Under the watchful eyes of the half-German Filipino historian and nationalist, I meander my way through the discombobulation that is called the Philippines, ever hopeful like an Apostle.

  3. edgar lores says:

    Will, thanks.

    Chel, A man is called to meet the challenges of the time.

    “I couldn’t sit still anymore and remain silent as a human-rights lawyer.”

    May the time rise to meet you.

  4. John Silva says:

    Good piece and interview. Sen Diokno was our commencement speaker in Green Hills in 69. That was a memorable speech and we were enthralled.

  5. LG says:

    Will, thank you; your ‘Profiles in Courage’ are must reads. I look forward to the next profile.

    Dean Atty. Chel, God bless and keep you safe. Best wishes to your run for senator.

  6. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Thanks, Joe! Please continue. I certainly will vote Chel Diokno — all Opposition. Each one of them should have their bio-data (like this interview) publicized. Our electorate needs to know their candidates and think critically.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Brod Jimmy. Saw you in Brod Elmer Ordoñez’s book launch. Btw, the Anthology of Upsilon Writing is ready for sale. Your poems honored it.

  7. Joseph H. Francia says:

    I agree with Gemino “Jimmy” Abad. Thanks for this informative interview. I will vote for Chel. I pray that our electorate will think critically and vote true servant leaders into public office.

  8. NHerrera says:

    Thanks Will. I am glad TSH, through your interview series, is helping the awareness level of the lesser known Opposition Senatorial Candidates. Chel Diokno is certainly, quality wise, a much better candidate in a lot of measures than most of the 12 or 14 (?) Administration Candidates.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      By a mile, NH.

      • Tweeto Wakatono says:

        from tweeto este popoy (using different laptop in a different place)

        We are captives of our select experiences
        everything we admire captivates us somehow
        which we remember even at onset of dementia
        we and us are sometimes particularized as me
        there was me not forgetting what was said
        by a fearless looking Jose Wright Diokno;

        It was in Rizal Hall at Padre Faura when
        Inang Bayan or Nacion or Lupang Tinubuan
        Was Payatas or Smokey Monkey of the very poor
        When students and me in a symposium
        heard fearless Pepe W. says
        And shares the gospel of patriots

        Marcos says he is giving the people
        Through Martial Law
        Lots of sweet bread like donuts
        When the truth is Marcos gives you
        Nothing but the HOLES OF DONUTS.

  9. NHerrera says:


    I am watching CNN Live TV. This time the surveys got it right. It seems it is now a foregone conclusion: in this US Midterm Election the Democrats will take back the US House of Representatives and the Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

    I am impressed with how technology has helped greatly the presentation of the Midterm Election results, as they develop.

    • NHerrera says:


      I am only a Grade 1 student of American Politics, but if I am to allowed to add these random thoughts:

      – US Democracy works
      – Mueller will have a bigger impact than if the House and Senate continue to be controlled by the Republicans
      – his lies may take a holiday from the recent 30 lies per day
      – Democrat-initiated investigations may sting
      – Trump may feel crippled, but his mouth will not be
      – not saying here (currently) that he may not win 2020

      • I’d say that, much like the Philippines, the House vote is more about the President’s personality and the Senate his policies. You are right, American democracy has stronger institutions, of which voting and public awareness are one.

        • NHerrera says:

          Of course the obvious: PH House members are more easily persuaded [you may put a British flavor or code to that word if you wish] after the election, however their wins for the other side at election, than their US counterparts.

        • LG says:

          IMHO, Trump brought out and made acceptable the innate and covert ‘Trumpness’ of some US Senators who are Republicans, especially, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz; these 3 so badly standout. The rest of the Republican Senators are not as bad in their Trumpness as the above noted 3, but bad nevertheless, for enabling Trump in their silence, afraid to speak up or resist lest they won’t get re-elected by Trump’s base. Not substantially different from some of our local senators who ride on Duterte’s coat tail.

        • Tweeto Wakatono says:

          Musings about the results of the USA 2018 elections (from popoy). . .

          In the entire free or not so free world
          USA remains and likely to stay number one
          Because of the wisdom of its voters
          Because of homeostasis

          Like a rainforest regardless of recalcitrance
          Of erratic trees USA persist in stubbornness
          To be land of the free, home of the brave
          From the Atlantic westward inland to the Pacific
          from sea to shining sea.

          WHY? HOW COME? if only from deductions
          In spite of specifics to the contrary
          Voters most times achieved an even keel
          For their ship of state. Really?

          Two political parties vie for power
          To rule and control the people’s future
          Two isms poles apart in theory and practice
          Take turns for change and dominance.

          Republicans aims for progress and maintenance
          To sustain wealth and power of those
          Low and most already high
          The Liberals on the other hand have permanent highs
          To extend generous assistance and lift the rights of man
          Regardless of status of being haves and have nots.

          There are of course thousands of specifics
          Of either reason or eche bucheche to debunk
          The above deductions but it could be better
          To say it in prose to be perhaps a little credible.

          The results of the last US elections purported to be won: Republicans got plurality in the Senate and State Governorships; while US Congress House of Representatives were won by the Liberals. As it stands after the election, certain political and governance powers had been assigned by the American voters
          In rightful balance to four levels of power namely: the Presidency, the Senate, the State Governors are Republicans (federal/national/state) WHILE Congress (state\local) is in the hands of Liberals.

          Listing in details (big and small) what the Republicans and Liberals do for country and people chronicles the check and balance resulting in homeostasis of political resilience and strength of the polity. Who takes care of foreign trade, national defense, etc. who takes care of victims of circumstance, of human rgights, of the have nots, the disadvantaged? Republicans for country as a whole? Liberals for people in particular? Every four or eight years, it could be theorized that elections in USA is like a Microsoft computerized RESTORE apps to take care of insidious malware or viruses that afflicted the society.

          USA elections is impertinence to Philippine elections. Political homeostasis is non existent YET in the Philippines.

          SO WHAT ? What is the point? Well, under Martial Law or Dictatorship, in any election,what you get is the HOLE of the DONUT as rightfully, cleverly put forward by former Senator Jose Wright Diokno. . . .

  10. karlgarcia says:

    Thanks again, Will.
    You have interviewed half of the opposition slate already, just four more to go and some follow ups.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Welcome, Karl! And miles to go before I sleep.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Let us not sleep.
        Many asked why only 8 for the opposing slate, there was a TV show called” eight is enough”.

        I just hope the opposition supporters would forget past issues that are forgivable, otherwise they would vote straight opposition, but of course we oppose not just just for the sake of opposing. Some issues and advocacies like what Chel and the late Senator Diokno fought for.

  11. madlanglupa says:

    On-topic: difficult times for lawyers fighting for human rights, especially with a lawyer working on behalf of sugarcane farmers was gunned down. Of course predictably coinciding with PNP statements.

    Off-topic: it was inevitable. As a wag said, “Province of China by numbers”.

  12. kirsten mureen cavada says:

    Balik natin ang dignidad ng Senado! Iboto natin ang mga kagaya ni Chel Diokno. Bayan ang nasa puso.

  13. caliphman says:

    Just a footnote on the legacy passed on to Chel and La Salle by one of its most eminent alumni. Senator Jose Diokno was indeed a product of La Salle through and through. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class. His college years there were engaged not in liberal arts studies but in finishing a commerce degree, where notably rich Chinese and Spanish families trained their sons in the hope of becoming taipans and tycoons. And yes, with a summa cum laude in commerce he could have gone that route. But instead, he took a detour and got a law degree at UST.

    Jose Diokno was a towering genius, he topped both the CPA and the Bar exams studying on his own without the benefit of review classes.
    But perhaps more than that, he became the model for Chel and La Salle that brillance and bravery should be employed in service of humanity and not just to build fortunes.

    • Nice footnote to the article.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Thanks for the footnote.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Caliphman.

      “… brillance and bravery should be employed in service of humanity and not just to build fortunes.”

      We have gone astray, with ideals becoming contemptible. Not only candidates but also voters themselves have brought us to this impasse. It’s mutual destruction, for how can a country progress with the kind of leaders we have in general, and the kind of electorate we have considering plurality vote? Bad leaders won’t last (unlike people like Diokno The Elder who continue to live on in our hearts) and bad voters will remain addicted to the quick fix of Aquinos until they bring the country down with them. Everybody happy?

      • We have gone astray, with ideals becoming contemptible. Not only candidates but also voters themselves have brought us to this impasse.

        They say that it was strongest in my generation, 50somethings who grew up during Martial Law, knowing no democracy and ideals. At least your generation had still seen democracy – I thought of duck eggs when ballot boxes were again spoken of in the 1981 fake elections.

        The choices for people who don’t know true North are awful – either to be rebels without a cause or cynics, focused only on one’s own interests to the exclusion of everything else. Showing such people that decency can indeed exist in real life, is not a sham, is a hard job.

    • NHerrera says:

      They do not make them a lot as they used to. Thanks, caliphman. Glad to have TSH — blog and comments — keeping the flames burning.

      [Revised my initial words to include the qualifier, in fairness, with Robredo, husband and wife, and others in mind.]

  14. Florecita Padua says:

    The late senator Jose W Diokno defended my father for double murder and had him acquitted. My father was framed up by his powerful political opponents and no lawyer would take up his case. The late senator came all the way to ilocos Sur pro bono fir Court hearings. He is a true defender of truth and justice. We are eternally grateful. He is a great inspiration.

  15. pelang says:

    This is brilliant. I wish people knew a lot about him earlier. I can’t wait for the next “episode.”

  16. Francis says:

    OT—an interesting article:

    Lessons for the ‘Rest’ from ersatz miracles
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov 6 2018 (IPS) – Of the ten fastest growing economies since 1960, eight are in East Asia. Two main competing explanations claimed to explain this regional concentration of catch up growth since the late 20th century, often referred to as the East Asian miracle.

    Jomo Kwame Sundaram
    The dominant ‘neo-liberal’ Washington Consensus, sought to establish minimalist ‘night-watchman’ state, attributed this exceptional regional performance to macroeconomic stability, public goods provision, and openness to trade and investment.
    Meanwhile, more heterodox economists focused on the need for states to adopt pragmatic, experimental ‘trial and error’, selective approaches to overcome market and coordination failures in order to accelerate growth, especially through industrialization.

    In this view, the developmental states of Northeast Asia used their ‘embedded autonomy’ viz a viz the private sector to accelerate technological catch-up and achieve rapid growth. But what then is to be learnt from the more modest and mixed progress in Southeast Asia?

    Southeast Asia and the ‘Rest’
    The conventional wisdom about Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand (MIT), is that states there lacked the strength, autonomy and embeddedness viz a viz the private sector to successfully adopt Northeast Asian development strategies.

    Selective interventions in MIT were said to be subject to too much rent-seeking and corruption, which were widely believed to have slowed growth elsewhere. But this view does not quite fit the facts, i.e., sustained rapid growth in MIT.

    Michael Rock’s Dictators, Democrats and Development in Southeast Asia shows how weaker and less autonomous states in MIT, subject to corruption and rent-seeking, successfully achieved rapid growth by pursuing unorthodox interventionist policies.

    MIT undoubtedly looks much more like the Rest than Northeast Asia. They are resource rich, but have avoided the ‘resource curse’. They have high levels of ethnic heterogeneity, but have avoided related growth tragedies.

    Like the Rest, they have poorer governance—weaker and less competent states, with less autonomy from the private sector, more corruption and rent-seeking. Yet, they have avoided the growth slowdowns and lost decades experienced by many of the Rest.

    Nation building first?
    So, how did MIT succeed while the Rest did not? Economic take-offs in MIT were preceded by rentier capitalist political elites gaining state control and pragmatically implementing industrial development strategies.

    The successes were certainly not primarily about free trade, laissez faire, or being FDI friendly and export-oriented. They were also not easy, took time, and encountered political resistance, instability and violence.

    Development did not emerge on the political agenda until elites needed to protect their conservative ‘nation-building’ projects. To consolidate power, they recognized that development and growth were in their long-term political interest.

    The inability of political elites to successfully complete their nation-building projects is therefore crucial to understanding ‘failed states’. Such conservative nation-building projects were typically led by ‘centre right’ coalitions composed of monarchies, the military, police, bureaucracy and business elite.

    The losers were the Left and popular groups, among others. With the defeat of the Left and histories of openness to foreign trade and investment, elites forged pro-growth political coalitions enabling an open capitalist, but nonetheless interventionist growth strategy to work.

    Pragmatic development
    This development strategy was more pragmatic than ideological, and rooted in essentially ‘experimental’, ‘muddling through’ and ‘trial and error’ approaches. Thus, even though these were ‘open economies’, the governments were not dogmatic ‘free traders’.

    As MIT governments used both markets and states to sustain growth, development policies were certainly not laissez faire, even though they were capitalist, with states far more interventionist than mere night-watchmen.

    MIT states sought to promote domestic capitalists to compete in the global economy. Such promotion of rentier business elites was reciprocated with ‘kickbacks’ for political elites to secure political support.

    The fact that MIT growth was primarily driven by domestic, not foreign investment, has important implications for development policy. MIT’s favoured capitalists generally responded by substantially increasing the investment to GDP ratio.

    MIT growth was thus investment, rather than export-led. The shares of manufactures in GDP and exports are larger than expected while export concentration indices are less than believed, suggesting that selective industrial policies worked, albeit unevenly.

    Policy context
    This strategy has influenced the size distribution of firms as a small number of very large conglomerates dominate—government-patronized ethnic Chinese conglomerates which dominate the MIT economies and, exceptionally, Malaysia’s ‘government-linked companies’.

    This political economy ‘ecosystem’ could have failed if MIT governments were not developmentalist, or if the elites were too greedy, or if the private sector did not invest, or if there were no checks or balances.

    Ruling political elites in MIT have been opportunistically or pragmatically nationalistic despite quasi-neoliberal rhetoric to the contrary. They pursued economic development as necessary for regime consolidation, national power and achieving their goals.

    Many observers correctly argue that MIT economies have not been consistently good at catching-up, which is only to be expected from experimenting. Nevertheless, their industrial policies have been effective in upgrading some firms and industries.

    There is evidence of learning in aircraft, wood processing and automotive industries in Indonesia, and of substantial learning in palm oil processing and electronics in Malaysia, and agro-processing, cement, automotive parts, and component supplies in Thailand.

    MIT governments and capitalists also learned from setbacks and failures without necessarily admitting to them, e.g., when governments took too much, or when government incentives failed, and policies had adverse consequences, even if unintended.

    Sustaining growth, industrialization and technological progress remain preconditions for continuing income increases. Yet, all three now seem caught in so-called ‘middle income traps’. Escaping these traps will depend on the governing elites’ understanding of past progress.

    • It is interesting. The Philippines has some of the preconditions for growth in spite of corruption and political turmoil, its economic engine powered by consumer spending from a comparatively large population and the flow of OFW remittances. Manufacturing is piecemeal rather than whole goods, so anemic as imports come in and go out with minimum value added. I suspect that the economy would power up with greater attention spent on manufacturing and agribusiness. The Philippines farms now, it does not conduct agribusiness. It could be the breadbasket of greater Asia with larger, more mechanized production of its fertile growing fields. And its lower cost labor pool is a great advantage in manufacturing until it also reaches the middle income doldrums.

    • NHerrera says:

      edgar and I had a brief exchange in a previous blog article around this concept,

      (Situation + Leader –> Means –> Goal) Constraints

      Turning now to the article in the link and making broad brush comments using the above concept:

      At the start of the process, the Elite-Led Companies (ELCs) in the MIT countries — Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand — had this in mind

      Goal = Growth working under the Constraints both external and internal (including governmental regulations)

      And one of the Means employed was focused on Investment in country more than the incentive to export.

      These Companies pursued their goal rather successfully without active partnership with the government until they saw — The Situation — that their goal will be uncompleted and so a pragmatic adjustment had to be made:

      Goal = Development (primary) + Growth (secondary or in tandem)

      where the Goal is now that of Government in active partnership with the ELCs in the MIT countries; and thus the Leader in my schema is now

      Leader = Government + Elite-led Companies

      [With the interesting comment by the article author that government was greased pragmatically by the ELC to keep the two in effective tandem]

    • karlgarcia says:

      Since we are not yet in a middle income trap, we could make use of our partnership with the Israel government with regards to Agri-Biz.
      So with or without water we can proceed to succeed.

      For manufacturing, our discussions of a military-industrial complex licensed manufacturing is one example to start with.

      Regarding Dennis Uy and his shopping spree, he is the favorite elite of the season, we are not sure if he will be remain favored once his connections are gone, look the VIllars are on standby, Singson will do his best to delay this third telco.

      Since Uy has the connections prepare the welcome mat for the Chinese.

      Regarding our gdp per capita record shared by Madlanglupa in in another blog,it may be fact checked using other sources, but it is no reason to celebrate, that was 2017, I am not that positive for 2018 GDP per capita,

      • NHerrera says:

        Right, karl.

        Additional note: I read once some time back, don’t remember in which of the MIT countries, and I am not sure whether it is the same practice currently; but in that country, there is a cozy relationship between the corruptors and the corruptees but both are wise enough not to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth, even going to the extent of travelling economy internally or abroad on vacation with the family. Unlike in the PH, where we hear so much the statement, “hindi mo ba kilala kung sino ako?”

  17. john c. jacinto says:

    I will not only vote for Chel Diokno, I will also actively campaign for him and his other fellow candidates under the Liberal Party.

  18. Micha says:


    Maybe I haven’t been paying much attention but I just learned today that Bongbong Marcos is married pala to a certain Liza Araneta of the aristocratic Araneta family. What’s with the Marcoses’ obsession with the Aranetas I do not know. Isn’t Irene Marcos also married to Greggy Araneta?

    Also learned that Liza’s aunt is married to Don Pedro Cojuangco, brother of Cory Aquino. A case of Philippine oligarchy consolidating their wealth and power through marital affinity.

    Bongbong Marcos’ wife is related by blood to Mar Roxas.

    No wonder they call each other kumpadre.

    • Mar’s mother is an Araneta. Another Marcos is married to a Rocha – the producer of Heneral Luna is from that family. Marcoses are looking to marry with the old wealth – as new money.

      There were Cojuangcos on both sides of the Marcos-Aquino divide. Not that this does not happen elsewhere. Two grandchildren of Queen Victoria were enemies in World War I – the German Kaiser and the English King, the rivalry was very personal at least for Wilhelm.

      Mar Roxas owns the Araneta Coliseum it seems, and half of Cubao, and also lives there.

      • Micha says:

        President Manuel Roxas had a paramour, Juanita McIlvain. One of the granddaughters of Pres. Roxas and Ms. McIlvain was 1973 Miss Universe Margarita “Margie” Moran.

        President Manuel Roxas’ wife, Trinidad de Leon, was the daughter of former Senator Ceferino de Leon. Sen. De Leon’s brother, Jose, married Dona Narcisa “Sisang” Buencamino, one of the most successful movie magnates in her time. Narcisa’s first cousin’s son was Philip Buencamino, who married Nene Quezon, daughter of President Manuel Luis Quezon.

        Further, another scion of the Roxas family was Margarita Roxas, whose marriage to Antonio de Ayala produced Trinidad de Ayala. Trinidad later married Jacobo Zobel and started the legendary Zobel De Ayala family.

        Some of the minor branches of the Zobel de Ayala family married into the other aristocratic families of Manila. The Aranetas, Ayalas, Elizaldes, Prietos, and more. Through the Roxas family’s connection with the Aranetas, former Tourism Secretary and 1965 Miss International Gemma Cruz-Araneta is also related to Pres. Roxas since the grandmother of her husband Tonypet Araneta is Carmen Roxas Zaragoza (a cousin of President Roxas and a great aunt of Senator Mar Roxas).

        • Gemma Cruz Araneta was the daughter of the recently deceased journalist Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, and her great-grandmother was Rizal’s sister.

          Nene Quezon and Aurora Quezon were killed by Huks in a postwar ambush, one of the major tragedies of the time.

          And the first Zobel in the Philippines was a German pharmacist who settled in the early 19th century:

          Roxas family started out as sugar planters sometime in the late 18th century.

          By contrast, Cojuangcos are relatively new money. It is interesting that Hacienda Luisita originally was offered to the Lopez family but Magsaysay intervened to offer it to the father-in-law of his protege: NInoy Aquino..

 – so the modus operandi of the Philippine money class has always been the same, Dennis Uy is not an anomaly, just a new player in an old game

          • P.S. Nene and Aurora Quezon were killed together with Philipp Buencamino.


          • Micha says:

            Right, and that illustrates why it is next to impossible to institute real functioning democracy in the country because the levers of both economic and political power are controlled by this small group of oligarchic families. Duterte will not dare inconvenience these families because the moment he does he’ll be shown the door.

            • The richest families nowadays mostly have Chinese surnames, except for Razon and Ayala.

              There could indeed be a bit of a shift, with the M-A-D (Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte) group more for the Chinoy new money, and yellow more on the side of the old “mestizo” money.

              • The new circles are I think best represented by the crowd as Chiz Escudero’s wedding.

              • Micha says:

                Yes, but the dynamics doesn’t change, it’s still feudal and oligarchic.

                The wealth controlled by the likes of Manny Pangilinan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwie, Lucio Tan and others will not seek to democratize the country. They will control and monopolize that wealth.

              • Micha says:

                In other words, the screwing of the Filipino people will continue whether it’s in the hands of the Spanish mestizo or the Chinoy taipans.

                Plutocrats of any stripe behave the same, anytime, anywhere.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > What’s with the Marcoses’ obsession with the Aranetas I do not know.

      For a long time they sought to put themselves into the pantheon of the so-called 400 titled families, hoping in one way or another they would be part of the principalia, but their wealth was based mostly on theft and smuggling, and when it that failed for a meantime, they went for billions of dollars — all from IMF-WB loans — to ingratiate themselves with the international jetset.

      • Oscar Wilde once said that behind every great fortune, there is a great crime. I think this is not always true, but often it is, and the difference between nobility and gangsters is not that big you just have to look back a few centuries to find the nobles were once robber barons. And of course the gangsters once they have enough money send their kids to boarding schools and hope they get law degrees and MBAs. A bit of Shakespeare and one knows how British nobility behaved before they started drinking tea from their colonies.

  19. NHerrera says:


    The human species is a marvel. No matter whether he is a Stalin, a Hitler or a latter-day Variant, one can always find someone to do the latter’s bidding. This is a truism of the human species.

    This thought comes to mind while pondering on Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions and replacement in Acting Capacity by Sessions Chief of Staff who was openly biased against Mueller. This Trump action is rightly portrayed as Trump using a window of opportunity right after the Midterm Election — and before the freshly minted House of Representatives acts, and Mueller finishes his investigation and make his after-investigation report.

    That most important element, Timing, is being used as a big part of a strategy. But this is not a game of solitaire, unfortunately.

    • Micha says:

      Trump is scared of the Mueller investigation not for the alleged collusion with the Russians in rigging the 2016 election but for being exposed as the recipient of dirty money from the Russian mafia led by Putin. Most of his business holdings – golf courses, resorts, hotels, casinos – were propped up by dirty money from the Russians. He served as a launderer of those stolen money.

      • NHerrera says:

        Whatever the source of the fear. Thanks.

        • Micha says:

          The distinction is crucial because the charge of collusion is hypocritical and is only politically motivated and will most likely not stick with the general public. The American neo-liberal apparatchik also colluded with Boris Yeltsin and installed him as Russian President back in the early 1990’s.

          American operatives also actively colluded with many right wing dictators in Latin American countries.

          If you want to go after Trump, go after his tax returns and follow the money.

          That is where the crime was committed.

          • Trump at his post election press conference was in terrific form, surly and hurt and threatening. He responded to a question about his taxes by saying essentially they are always being audited and changed and ‘you people are not smart enough to understand them’.

            • Micha says:

              He squirms whenever his tax returns are brought up because he knows that would be where all his fraud can be exposed.

              • Yes. I’m looking forward to seeing how the House deals with these matters. Some dems are demanding impeachment, some want to look at taxes, and the threat is out to call Mueller as a witness if the new DOJ tries to cancel his project. Fun times.

  20. andrewlim8 says:

    Look at what China Telecom has been doing to circumvent no-hacking agreements:

    It is a dubious company.

  21. Tweeto Wakatono says:

    This Diokno fruit did not fall away from the tree like a leaf in a sea of evil is true to type of the benign and positive type. Think of the names of fruits of Filipino political dynasties, write the names of the sons and daughters of these families who plundered and suck the juice of the poor and your skin will crawl and shiver in the cold of shame and desire to put an end to their political existence. .

  22. Ric Samaniego says:

    Chel is a son of a HERO. Sen. PEPE DIOKNO mamed after some of out newly built roads manila and I understand in some province as well. Sen. Pepe was my contemporary of my Dad- Jesus who worked at Bureau Customs as deputy Chief. Among his agents was then Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr. He idolized the Diokno’s, Padilla’s, Tanada’s and Soc Rodrigo. And Yes, Ninoy. He died a poor man leaving us a house with outstanding loans at GSIS. Pag matino ka at nasa gobyerno ka lalo sa politika di ka yayaman. Iilan lang sa mga pagalan na nabangit ko ang bukang bibig mg Tatang ko. Si Diokno No. 1. Bakit ? CPA na at nag aral sarile ng law at pinayagan ng Supreme Court na kimuha ng BAR ay nag No. 1. In short, Bar Topnotcher. San naman nakakuha ng suwerte iyun wlala pa starbucks, UCC at Coffee Bin nuon. Basta may yosi lang ayos na. Sabi nga ng millennial kung paganay si JC. Suntok sa Buwan ito si Dean Chel Diokno at lalo si Sol. Gen. Flor Hiblay ( Bar Topnotcher din). Kailangan makilala sila ng mabilis “ patakbuhin mo sa Edsa ng Nakahubo” o mag guesting sila sa “Ang Pribinsiyano” No. 1 rating sa Teleserye Coco Martin. I told them we have moral responsibility to educate the D and E voters. Just what we did in the past. Nakalusot naman like VP Leni amd the rest na matino, integridad at mahusay. 🙏

  23. Vivian says:

    Even in the midst of his interview, i can feel his sincerity, his heart speaks! Intellectual and funny and he has my vote. The Philippines has a good future, brighter and justice will be served right. I will campaign for him!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      What a surprise to find Dean Chel Diokno in the frontline. God is not done yet with the Philippines. He intends to make us the country we have always wanted to become. As Dean Chel said, we have no problem with people and infrastructure to keep us competitive in the world market. It’s justice we need to have, and we don’t have a terminal disease along that line. We’re curable! As he rides into the fray, may the spirit of his Dad be with him, may the people accord him the same love and admiration, and may God bless him all the days of his life.

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  1. […] Second Installment of a Two-Part Article on Dean Chel Diokno (link to Part 1) […]

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