Philippine Supreme Court disbars Marcos adviser for sexist attack on journalist

Camille Elemia
Philippine Supreme Court disbars Marcos adviser for sexist attack on journalist Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, May 10, 2023.

Updated at 5:31 a.m. ET on 2023-06-28

The Philippine Supreme Court said on Wednesday that it had disbarred a staunch supporter and adviser to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from practicing law for an abusive attack against a journalist.

The 15-member court voted unanimously on Tuesday against Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon over a viral video clip in which he repeatedly cursed and uttered profane remarks against veteran journalist Raissa Robles. 

The court said the foul-mouthed tirade was “indisputably scandalous” and discredits the legal profession, citing his violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability.

“Gadon unfortunately failed to realize that lawyers are expected to avoid scandalous behavior, whether in their public or private life,” the court said in a statement. It reminded all lawyers that there was no room for misogyny and sexism in the profession.

Gadon, a trained lawyer who ran unsuccessfully as senator for Marcos Jr.’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan party at the last election, was appointed as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation on Monday.

The appointment drew criticism from opposition lawmakers and rights groups who questioned Gadon’s qualifications for the role and noted he had already been suspended by the supreme court over the video clip.

Robles said the disbarment of Gadon was a “stab of light in the gathering darkness of massive disinformation and trolling by Marcos loyalists and operatives.”

“Gadon’s vile video, telling me to go screw a dog, had emboldened others to attack women and journalists online. Yesterday, he publicly said I should be thankful he did not have me killed,” she said in a statement.

Gadon posted the video cursing Robles to Twitter in late 2021 after she made critical comments about Marcos Jr.’s conviction for failing to file income tax returns, an issue which resulted in calls to disqualify him from running for president.

Gadon on Wednesday said he would appeal his disbarment. 

“The penalty is too harsh for the alleged cause, which was my outburst against a reporter who was blatantly spreading lies against President BBM [Marcos],” Gadon said.

He said the supreme court decision would not affect his new role in the government.

“The position and the task given to me by the president do not require lawyering hence my suspension and disbarment have no effect on my appointment I will just approach this issue on a personal concern, file a motion for reconsideration and proceed in facing the challenges of the job and aim to serve the public in my best capability,” Gadon said.

Gadon was also cited by the supreme court for contempt of court for his baseless accusations of bias against Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. 

Robles sued Gadon for libel, cyberlibel, and violation of the Safe Spaces Act but the latter two were dismissed by local prosecutors. The other cases are pending with the justice department.

He also has at least ten cases filed against him at the court’s Office of the Bar Confidant and with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the official association of lawyers.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, which includes Robles as a member, had previously denounced his “atrocious and beastly behavior.” 

The group, which was founded in 1974 to safeguard press freedom, noted that while Gadon had the right to challenge journalists it should never be with such “venom and malice that openly flout civility.”

This story was updated to reflect the court’s decision was made on Tuesday, not Wednesday.


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