Former senator Joker Arroyo–a key figure in the anti-Marcos movement–has died while undergoing open heart surgery in the United States. He was 88 years old.
Arroyo, a human rights lawyer, served as member of the Philippine Senate for two consecutive terms in 2001 and 2007 before he quit politics in 2013.
He also served as congressman of Makati City (Metro Manila) for nine years and as executive secretary of then-President Corazon Aquino.
Arroyo was born on January 5, 1927 in Naga, Camarines Sur, where he finished his primary and secondary education before getting a scholarship at the University of the Philippines.
A graduate of the UP College of Law and the Ateneo de Manila, he earned public recognition when he challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) the constitutionality of Proclamation 1081 imposing martial law.
Based on his Senate profile, Arroyo handled more human rights cases than any other lawyer from 1972 to 1986.
He defended various political detainees including former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Eugenio Lopez Jr., Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd, Communist Party of the Philippines founder and chairman Jose Ma. Sison, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Eva Estrada Kalaw, Renato Tañada, Eduardo Olaguer and many others.
He was also the lead prosecutor during the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada in December 2000.
Arroyo has been married twice.
His first wife is Gregg Shoes entrepreneur Odelia Gregorio.
Their eldest daughter is Ma. Antonia Odelia “Maoi” Gregorio Arroyo, CEO of Hybridigm Consulting, the first biotechnology commercialization firm in the Philippines.
His second daughter, Ma. Zef Francisca “Baba” Arroyo, is an entrepreneur, artist and pastry chef.
Arroyo’s second wife is lawyer Felicitas Aquino, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
Their daughter is Joker’s namesake and a champion equestrian, whose career highlights include a team gold medal for the Philippines at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.