Wednesday, October 07, 2015
71. Sen. Joker Arroyo
It is quite a coincidence that one of the Republic's most revered politicians is a guy named Joker. I was a high school student in the early days of the Cory Aquino presidency when I read a headline that said something like "Reeducate the military -- Joker Arroyo." The rightists were agitating for his ouster as Executive Secretary due to the perception that he was a communist, but to the average citizen, those red baiting headlines and rumors didn't really add up to a fair conclusion that he was a red or that being so meant he must be removed. Fast forward to the Erap Administration, and Joker was considered a front runner for Speaker, except that Manny Villar had the numbers. So, I heard Joker on the radio lambasting Villar for having used his office as congressman to ensure passage of laws that would facilitate housing loans that ultimately benefitted Villar's housing companies. Joker would drift away from public view after that and soon reappear as lead prosecutor of the Erap Impeachment. That opening speech of his that ended with a statement that we could not have a President who is a thief should be a favorite elocution piece for high school speaking contests. It was brilliant and it captured what we had in our raging hearts in those days. Then, this magical photo of Joker leading the prosecutors in a huddle during a break in the impeachment appeared in the front pages; it made me proud of being a lawyer for it is one of the high points of the legal profession in this country. It showed these valiant men of law so skilled and so sharp they roused the Republic to revolt and oust a buffoon from the Palace. I voted for him when he ran for the Senate in 2001 and missed the voting for 2007 because of election work. But I kept track of him as one of the few senators who didn't touch his pork barrel. I listened to Senator Joker's speech at the close of the Corona impeachment in 2012 and wondered why Joker had a different vote. I suspected something was amiss. Atty. Judd Roy declared that the senators were bribed with 50 Million Pesos worth of pork barrel each from Malacanang, but the case seemed like it was not necessary. Joker gave a short speech in that voting, and I was cheering him on half-wanting for a conviction and half-wanting for an acquittal, because Joker was for acquittal, which only shows what lesser minds we are compared to this genius. I only had one chance of meeting him in the Senate where he once chaired the Committee on Public Franchises. It was a pleasant meeting as he assured us of his support, and true enough he delivered on his promise as we got the approval of the Senate for a franchise, no sweat. We have to credit the Republic for having elected Joker to the public office, several times to Congress and twice to the Senate -- proof that our people can recognize and vote for great men to lead them. I shall be saying this over and over again to my grandchildren when I'm old, one of the greatest politicians in this country was a man called Joker. Goodbye good senator. Thank you for your service to the Republic.