Joker Arroyo (MNS Photo)

Joker Arroyo (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Monday expressed its condolences to the family of former Senator Joker Arroyo, who died in the United States last week after an unsuccessful heart operation.

“The passing of Joker Arroyo closes a life and career spent in the midst of burning issues of public interest for half a century,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

“As a lawyer and legislator, he was outspoken. As a citizen, he was one of those who fought the dictatorship and served in the effort to restore our democracy: This is the Joker Arroyo the country will remember. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones in their time of grief,” he added.

Last October 7, Lacierda chose to defer any comment out of respect to Arroyo’s family who has yet to confirm his death.

“The only confirmation we have is with Senator Rene Saguisag. And sa totoo lang, we already have a statement but out of deference for the family, hindi pa po sila nag-a-announce eh,” Lacierda said then.

Arroyo died on October 5, former Senator Saguisag confirmed last week.

Saguisag described Arroyo’s passing as a “shocker,” noting he did not know that Arroyo was brought to the US. He said they last communicated in January this year.

Arroyo was among the lawyers of President Benigno Aquino III’s father, slain opposition leader Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.

He was the first to challenge the constitutionality of Proclamation 1081 issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos. The said proclamation imposed Martial Law in the Philippines.

Arroyo also served as the counsel of Ninoy’s widow, former President Cory, during the 1986 snap elections. Cory appointed him as her executive secretary.

Joker as PNoy’s critic

During his first year as chief executive, President Benigno Aquino III was faulted for the government’s supposed mistakes in the 2011 budget allotments, with Arroyo calling him a president running the country like a “student government.”

“Alam mo kasi sa Malacañang, ang pagtakbo ng gobyerno ay parang student government. Nag-aral tayo ng college, ng high school. Iyan ang pagtakbo (ng gobyerno). Parang student government ang government of the Philippines,” he said.

At the height of the controversy involving the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the late senator called Aquino an “evil genius.”

The accusation was brushed aside by Malacañang.(MNS)