“Black Maria” prison vans hustledÂ usÂ 22 journalists from our detention cellsÂ in FortÂ Bonifacio and Camp Crame to the Supreme Court building on Taft Avenue.That wasÂ a couple of days after the Marcos dictatorship clamped on martial law under theÂ rigged Proclmation 1081.
People in the streets stared at us — and looked away.. Led by the polite Col Generoso Alejo, we were hustled into the Court where defenseÂ Joker Arroyo and other defense counsels, like Sedfrey Ordonez,Â were gathered.
JokerÂ was our counsel probono.Â DefendantsÂ included, among others, Teodoro Locsin, Sr. Joaquin “Chino” Roces, Napoleon G. Rama, Maximo Soliven,Â Amando Doronila, then of the Daily Mirror, Luis D Beltran, Benny Esquivel and others.
I will never forget what JokerÂ whispered to us just before the Marcos supreme court filed in toÂ hear our petition. “Look at those characters. Fat chance for justice. there”
“But if you maintain your petition, you will at least keep something , on the record. NotÂ much but it isÂ better and nothing. Up to you.”
We did — and lived to see the day when Cory Aquino fired the Marcos justicesÂ when people people powerÂ erupted.
Joker kept in touch over the years. He showed up at our 45th wedding anniversary in Cebu, the wife sniffles.
Some IOUsÂ you can never pay. Still, weÂ say ” SalamatÂ Joker. Your passingÂ leaves a void in sky” ###Â (By JuanÂ L. Â Mercado)