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Arroyo , Joker Paz


January 05, 1927

Early Life and Career[edit]

Joker was born on January 5, 1927 in NagaCamarines Sur but Joker also lived with his brother, Nonito at Baao, Camarines Sur. His name “Joker” derives from his father’s fondness for card playing. Jack is the name for his brother.[1][2]

He completed his elementary education at the Naga Central School I in NagaCamarines Sur and secondary education at the Camarines Sur National High School also in Naga City. He gained a scholarship at the University of the Philippines and obtained the title Bachelor of Arts, and in 1952, his Bachelor of Laws from the College of Law. He also obtained his AAPL at the Ateneo de Manila University. He started his professional career as lawyer in 1953. Most of his clients belonged to the middle class and low income families.

Martial Law[edit]

On September 23, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Proclamation 1081, placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law. Arroyo was the very first lawyer to challenge the act before the Supreme Court and questioned its legality under the 1935 Philippine Constitution.

He and other lawyers joined in questioning other Marcos’ acts before the Supreme Court: 1) the ratification of the Marcos-dictated 1973 Constitution; 2) amendment Six that empowered President Marcos to exercise law making powers alongside the Batasang Pambansa; 3) the power of military tribunals to try civilians.

Arroyo participated in the trials of political detainees such as Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., ABS-CBN Executive Eugenio Lopez, Jr., Cebu politician Sergio Osmeña III, Communist Party of the Philippines founder and University of the Philippines Professor Jose Maria Sison, Senators Jovito Salonga and Eva Kalaw, lawyers Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Renato Tañada, Eduardo Olaguer and many others.

He actively participated in street demonstrations. He was gassed, injured and hospitalized during protest rallies and incarcerated in a military stockade. He was one of the founders of the civic group MABINI and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

When Corazon Aquino decided to challenge Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 Snap Presidential Election, Arroyo served as Counsel of Cory Aquino during the snap election. During the first EDSA Revolution, he served as one Aquino’s key advisers.

Aquino Presidency[edit]

Arroyo was appointed as Executive Secretary and he was one of the first appointees of Corazon Aquino after she was inaugurated in Club Filipino in San Juan. Arroyo served as Aquino’s alter ego in her issuance of Executive Orders (formerly Presidential Decrees). These include the creation of the Family Code, Presidential Commission on Good Government, creation of the 1986 Freedom Constitution, and the removal of local government officials & appointment of Officers-In-Charge. One Aquino decision, the freedom of Communist leader Jose Maria Sison sparked the September 1987 coup attempt initiated by rebel military leaders. Due to intense pressure from the Philippine Congress the following months, Aquino accepted Arroyo’s resignation.[3][4]

He held various post in the government service first as Executive Secretary in the Aquino cabinet from 1986 to 1987, then as Chairman of the Philippine National Bank and as Executive Director for the Philippines in the Asian Development Bank from 1986 to 1990.

Arroyo has received various awards and commendations for his significant contributions to the law profession and public service. Among these are the Philippine Bar Association’s Most Distinguished Award for Justice as a “man beholden to no one except to his country” and a Senate Resolution No. 100 enacted in the 8th Congress commending him for his invaluable services to the Filipino people.

House of Representatives[edit]

Arroyo ran independent for the position of Congressman in the lone district of Makati in 1992. He was a popular figure in the House of Representatives with a 100% attendance record for 9 years from the time he was elected up to the end of his last term. He was in caucus with the PDP-Laban. His passed several national bills and some local bills like the creation of the City of Makati and the second district of Makati. When the lone district of Makati City was divided into two, he ran for the first district in 1998.

On November 2000, he was one of the last congressmen who signed the endorsement for the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada. He was voted as the Lead Prosecutor for the Impeachment Trial on December 2000. He fought for the opening of the second bank envelope and present it as a critical evidence for the prosecution of Estrada. The Senate voted down his request and it led to the second EDSA Revolution. His role in the impeachment trial earned him as one of preferred choice in the SWS and Pulse Asia survey for the Senate race. The new government, led by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo convinced Congressman Arroyo to run for the Senate. Arroyo received a huge number of votes from the electorate.


He has chaired the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, and the Senate Public Services Committee, during the 13th congress. He claimed to have never traveled abroad on government money and his Statement of Assets and Liabilities has remained almost unchanged from the time he entered public service in 1986.[5][6] He retired from public service on June 30, 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Joker 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. Maoi was hailed by Entrepreneur Magazine[7] as one of the top 35 entrepreneurs under 35 in the Philippines. His second daughter, Ma. Zef Francisca “Baba” Arroyo, is an entrepreneur, artist, and pastry chef. His second wife is successful lawyer Felicitas S. 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. The younger Joker has graduated from the British School Manila, and Yale University.