Commemorating the declaration of International Human Rights Day, the Diokno Foundation and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) invited speakers to discuss the accomplishments and contributions of the late Sen. Jose Wright Diokno through an online webinar titled Kapihan with Ka-Pepe Diokno held last December 10 via Facebook Live.
The conversation on Ka Pepe’s birth centenary and legacy was spearheaded by former College of Law Dean Atty. Chel Diokno and University of the Philippines Diliman History Professor Dr. Maris Diokno.
Championing human rights
Despite becoming a topnotcher of both the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examination and the Philippine Bar Examination to becoming the founding chair of the CHR, Ka Pepe’s career as a human rights lawyer was only solidified after he was detained during Martial Law.
His efforts in ensuring that all human rights violations during the said period of dictatorship are documented and will be accounted for were also highlighted in the talk. “He made a promise to himself that if he ever got out, he would really commit himself [to] helping…victims of the dictatorship,” C. Diokno cited.
Guest panelists, University Student Government Vice President for External Affairs Lara Jomalesa and DLSU Law Student Government Vice President for Externals Justine David Del Rosario, also shared their admiration for Ka Pepe’s advocacy of upholding human rights. They pointed out that they only came to know of his actions through articles and historical accounts, with Del Rosario remarking that his legacy continues to influence even the current generation.
Del Rosario likened the youth’s drive and ambition to uphold human rights with Ka Pepe’s and mentioned how social media platforms are now utilized for this endeavor. He stated that these online platforms can also aid in inspiring other Filipinos in joining the fight against human rights violations and in preserving Ka Pepe’s legacy.
Jomalesa echoed this, maintaining that current technology can be maximized to reach a wider range of audience and to bring attention to urgent issues.
Beyond his work
Aside from being a “stalwart of human rights” and a prominent statesman in several accounts, J.W. Diokno was just a simple man.
“Not a lot of people realize [that] he (Ka Pepe) is human just like the rest of us,” Del Rosario commented.
Apart from discussing his contributions to Filipino society and politics, the webinar also highlighted the humanity of the late senator. These discussions touched on his reading and book binding hobbies, his passion for Judo that led him to serve as the instructor of his sons, and his being a “gadget guy,” as said by C. Diokno.
“He was brilliant, he was devoted to his work, he was really special—in the true sense of the word—by very broad interests,” M. Diokno concluded.