Joker P. Arroyo
Senator of the Philippines
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2013
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Makati's 1st congressional district
In office
June 30, 1998 – June 30, 2001
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byTeodoro Locsin, Jr.
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Makati's Lone District
In office
June 30, 1992 – June 30, 1998
Preceded byMaria Consuelo Puyat-Reyes
Succeeded byPost abolished
Executive Secretary
In office
February 25, 1986 – September 15, 1987
PresidentCorazon Aquino
Preceded byJuan Tuvera
Succeeded byCatalino Macaraig, Jr.
Personal details
Ceferino Paz Arroyo, Jr.[1]

(1927-01-05)January 5, 1927
Naga, Camarines Sur,
Philippine Islands, U.S.
DiedOctober 5, 2015(2015-10-05) (aged 88)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political partyIndependent (1992–2001, 2002–2007, 2014–2015)
Other political
Aksyon Demokratiko (2001)
Lakas Kampi CMD (2007–2014)
Spouse(s)Odelia Gregorio
Felicitas Aquino
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines Diliman
Ateneo de Manila University
WebsiteSenate Profile

Ceferino "Joker" Paz Arroyo Jr.[1] (January 5, 1927 – October 5, 2015) was a Filipino statesman and key figure in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution which ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He was Congressman for Makati from 1992 to 2001 and a Senator from 2001 to 2013. Arroyo 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.

Early life

Joker Arroyo was born on January 5, 1927, in Naga, Camarines Sur to Ceferino Barrameda Arroyo, Sr. (c. 1884 in Baao, Camarines Sur - January 7, 1949 in Sampaloc, Manila)[2] and Eusebia Bance Paz (born c. 1898 in Baao, Camarines Sur).[1] His parents were married on April 23, 1919, in Naga, Camarines Sur.[3] He has seven siblings, including Zeferino "Tong", Jack (who is also a politician in Camarines Sur), and Nonito, from Baao, Camarines Sur. His name "Joker" derives from his father's fondness for card playing. Jack is the name of his brother.[4][5]


He completed his elementary education at the Naga Central School I in Naga, Camarines Sur and secondary education at the Camarines Sur National High School also in Naga City. He obtained his Associate of Arts in Public Law at the Ateneo de Manila University (pre-law). In 1952, his Bachelor of Laws from the UP College of Law at Diliman. He is a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity, batch 1948.[6]


As a lawyer

He started his professional career as lawyer in 1953. Most of his clients belonged to the middle class and low income families.

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.

Arroyo 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 lawmaking powers alongside the Batasang Pambansa; 3) the power of military tribunals to try civilians. These protestations did not stop Marcos' consolidation of power at the time, but showed that not all leading Filipinos were fully supportive of him.

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.

Arroyo 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 Movement for the Advancement of the Brotherhood, Integrity, Nationalism and Independence (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 for Cory Aquino during the snap election. During the first EDSA Revolution, he served as one Aquino's key advisers.

Political career

As Executive Secretary

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, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, creation of the 1986 Freedom Constitution, and the removal of local government officials loyal to Marcos and appointment of Officers-In-Charge. One Aquino decision, the release 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 in the following months, Aquino accepted Arroyo's resignation.[7][8]

Arroyo 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.

As Congressman

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 nine years from the time he was elected up to the end of his last term. He was in caucus with the PDP-Laban. He 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 was divided into two, he ran for the first district in 1998.

In November 2000, he was one of the last congressmen to sign the endorsement for the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada. He was voted the Lead Prosecutor for the impeachment trial in December 2000. He fought for the opening of the second bank envelope and its presentation was a critical evidence for the prosecution of Estrada. The Senate voted down his request and this led to the second EDSA Revolution. His role in the impeachment trial earned him one of preferred choices in the SWS and Pulse Asia survey for a 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.

As Senator

Arroyo 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.[9][10] He retired from public service on June 30, 2013.

Personal life

Joker Arroyo was married twice. His first wife was 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[11] 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 was 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, among many other medal performances with the Philippine team. The younger Joker has graduated from the British School Manila in 2006, and Yale University in 2010.

Although they have the same surname, Joker Arroyo is not related to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo.[12][13]


Arroyo died on October 5, 2015, in San Francisco, California after unsuccessful heart surgery.[14] He was 88.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Ceferino Arroyo, Jr.'s Birth Register
  2. ^ Zeferino Arroyo's Death Certificate
  3. ^ Ceferino Arroyo and Eusebia Paz's Marriage Register
  4. ^ Chua-Eoan, H. "The Philippines The Joker Was Not Laughing", Time p. 1, September 21, 1987. Accessed last February 21, 2007.
  5. ^ Toms, S. "The Philippine name game", BBC News, January 14, 2006. Accessed last February 21, 2007.
  6. ^ Torrevillas, Domini M. "Joker remembered". Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  7. ^ Mydans, S. "Aquino, Under Pressure, Removes Her Closest Adviser", The New York Times, September 18, 1987. Accessed last February 21, 2007.
  8. ^ Chua-Eoan, H. "The Philippines The Joker Was Not Laughing", Time p. 2, September 21, 1987. Accessed last February 21, 2007.
  9. ^ "Joker Arroyo retains title of 'Scrooge' of Congress", INQ7.NET, February 16, 2004. Link is inactive as of February 21, 2007.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-02-23. Retrieved 2006-12-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) retrieved on February 21, 2007.
  11. ^ Entrepreneur Magazine April 2006.
  12. ^ Avendaño, Christine (October 8, 2015). "Joker Arroyo: He led fight against Marcos". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Remembering Joker Arroyo: Colleagues give heartwarming tribute". ABS-CBN News. October 8, 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Lawyer, senator Joker Arroyo, 88". Philippine Star. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
Political offices Preceded byJuan Tuveraas Presidential Executive Assistant Executive Secretary1986–1987 Succeeded byCatalino Macaraig, Jr. House of Representatives of the Philippines Preceded byMaria Consuelo Puyat-Reyes Representative, Lone District of Makati1992–1998 District dissolved New district Representative, 1st District of Makati1998–2001 Succeeded byTeodoro L. Locsin, Jr.