Renowned Street Parliamentarian
Nationalist, and Legal Luminary
Jose W. Diokno, or "Ka Pepe," as he was popularly known, was born on February 26, 1922 to Ramon Diokno, a former associate justice of the Supreme Court, and Eleanor Wright, an American who became a Filipino citizen. He graduated from elementary school with distinction, and finished his secondary education at De La Salle College as valedictorian in 1937. In 1940, he earned his bachelor's degree in commerce summa cum laude also at La Salle. He topped the CPA board examination in the same year with a rating of 81.18 percent. In 1944, without finishing his bachelor of laws degree, he took and topped the bar examination, with a rating of 95.3 percent. Immediately after passing the bar, Diokno embarked on his law practice, handling controversial cases, like the one of Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson, that brought him to public prominence. In 1961, President Diosdado Macapagal appointed him Secretary of Justice. A celebrated case he handled as Secretary of Justice involved the American businessman Harry S. Stonehill, who was suspected of tax evasion and other crimes. In prosecuting it, he issued an order to have the businessman's offices searched. The case became too controversial because of the tremendous influence that Stonehill wielded on both Americans and the Filipinos. Fearing for the life of his crusading justice secretary, President Macapagal asked him to resign from the office. In the November 1963 elections, Diokno ran for senator, and won. As chairman of the economic affairs committee in the Senate, Diokno advocated and worked for the passage of pro-Filipino legislations, like the Industrial Incentives Law, which provides incentives to Filipino investors and entrepreneurs in order to place the control of the Philippine economy in the hands of the Filipinos. The Philippines Free Press consistedly voted Diokno as an outstanding senator for his pro-people...