Sen. Joker Arroyo

Ayee Macaraig

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The senator has consistently sided with the Chief Justice in the latter's battle with Malacañang


Sen. Joker Arroyo:

PNoy has ‘totalitarian tendencies’

MANILA, Philippines – Cory Aquino’s executive secretary is now one of the staunchest critics of her son’s efforts to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona. He also once likened the present Aquino administration to a student council.

The senator has consistently sided with the Chief Justice on 2 points: the Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on a government-imposed travel ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Corona’s belief that the attack on him is an attack on the entire judiciary.

“The SC has put a stop, put a brake on the totalitarian tendencies of this government. We already have a creeping martial law here that we don’t only notice,” he said.

The senator was a key ally of the Arroyo administration despite the controversies and corruption allegations that hounded it.

Arroyo became famous as a human rights lawyer and freedom fighter during the Martial Law years. He challenged the constitutionality of the proclamation imposing martial law, helped political detainees like Ninoy Aquino, and handled many human rights cases.

Age: 85

Education: AB Law, UP; Associate in Arts Pre-Law, Ateneo

Professional background: Human rights lawyer, Executive Secretary from 1986-1987

Current term: 2007 to 2013

Eligible for reelection? No. It’s Arroyo’s second term at the Senate. He was elected to the Senate for the first time in 2001, following the botched impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada, where he served as one of the House prosecutors.

Political Party: Lakas-Kampi-CMD

Senate bloc

The Philippine Daily Inquirer counts Arroyo as part of the Nacionalista Party bloc of Sen. Manny Villar, which also includes Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano.

Fraternity: Upsilon Sigma Phi

Role in Estrada impeachment trial

Then a Makati representative, Arroyo was the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada in 2000-2001.

He argued to open the controversial second envelope allegedly containing incriminating evidence against Estrada. Senators, however, decided against this in a vote of 11-10. Prosecutors walked out, triggering the People Power uprising that ousted Estrada.

Published or aired position on Corona or on issues contained in the Articles of Impeachment

Before the SC issued the TRO, Sen. Arroyo said he finds the Justice Department’s watch list order against the Arroyos worrisome and unfortunate. He was quoted in the Manila Bulletin as saying, “We have become a very litigious country. And strangely, the [Aquino] government encourages that unhealthy trend.”

He added, “Over and above the weighty constitutional issue of the right to travel, is the overriding issue of human rights, a universal battle cry. Human rights are akin to Christian charity.”

When the SC issued the TRO, Sen. Arroyo said the High Tribunal “in effect told the government to stop the nonsense.”

Sen. Arroyo said Corona’s impeachment showed Aquino’s genius. “The net effect of this would be that President Aquino would achieve being an autocrat this time by stroke of genius. The President will be able to control the entire government without having to declare martial law.” –

Sources: Senate website; press statements of Sen. Arroyo; Manila Bulletin, ABS-CBN News, Philippine Daily Inquirer 

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