Gadon: A walking, talking liability – INQUIRER EDITORIAL

June 04, 2024 - 08:00 AM

PHOTO: Lawyer Larry Gadon flashes a dirty finger at the crowd outside the summer courthouse of the Supreme Court. STORY: Gadon: A walking, talking liability – INQUIRER EDITORIAL
Si Larry Gadon, ang abogadong nagsampá ng ng impeachment complaint laban kay Chief Justice-on-leave Ma. Lourdes Sereno, hinarap ang mga taga-supporta ni Sereno na nag-boo sa kanya pagdatíng niyá sa summer courthouse ng Korte Supreme nitóng Martéa, ika-10 ng Abril 2018. —File photo kuha ni EV Espiritu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

[This editorial was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 4, 2024.]

There’s no denying that President Marcos has picked a number of brilliant people to join his Cabinet or the lower rungs of officialdom, but the caliber of his appointees, it must be said, fluctuates wildly, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. At the bottom end of that spectrum lies the government’s “antipoverty czar” Larry Gadon.

It boggles the mind how one lawyer, disbarred and disgraced, has clung so tightly to the good graces of the administration’s high echelons despite having received such thorough flagellation from the Supreme Court—not once but twice and counting.

A year after he was expelled from the Bar for hurling profanities at journalist Raissa Robles, Gadon was found guilty of perjury by the high tribunal in a May 21 resolution and fined P150,000 for committing “falsehoods” in connection with an impeachment complaint filed against then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018.

A defiant Gadon said the Supreme Court “violated the basic principle of due process” by not asking for his explanation. He alleged, too, that the magistrates had rushed their decision as they had an axe to grind against him due to his remarks attacking Vice President Sara Duterte.

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A respectable platform

A week after the perjury ruling, the Presidential Communications Office scurried to the rescue of Mr. Marcos’ adviser by giving him a weekly talk show on state television.

The message from Malacañang, it seemed, was this: He is with us.

“Larry Gadon Live” provided the official who achieved notoriety six years ago when he flashed his middle finger and called supporters of Sereno “mga bobo,” or idiots, a respectable new platform to air his less-than-respectable views. (In the past, he had threatened to eliminate the Moro people, opined that masks were “only for show” at the peak of the pandemic, and claimed that human rights abuses during the dictatorship were mere propaganda.)

In fairness to Gadon, he was on his best behavior during the May 29 pilot episode of his show, as he interviewed government officials. Toward the end, he sang the Carpenters song, “I won’t last a day without you,” perhaps as a reminder to viewers that he was not to be taken seriously.

In June last year, Gadon was tapped to advise the President on “strategies and policies aimed at combating poverty and improving the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society.”

But it was clear to everyone that the role was a pointless addition to the bureaucracy, created only as a reward to Gadon for political favors, considering agencies like the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the Department of Social Welfare and Development already existed to serve the poor.

‘Only in their imagination’

The Palace statement had even touted Gadon’s “wealth of experience as a corporate executive and legal counsel in diverse sectors,” of which none was remotely connected to reducing poverty. Since then, little had been heard of Gadon’s office by way of achievement or any meaningful contribution to that cause.

On the contrary, it appears he even doubts the very purpose and usefulness of his office. Interviewed at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing on May 17, Gadon said: “The truth is those who are saying life is too hard are the only ones saying it. It’s only in their imagination. But the truth is if you go to the malls, they are all full, which means people have high purchasing power.”

Later, responding to the outrage, Gadon said his statement had been twisted out of context, arguing that it was directed only at the people who kept complaining about their station in life but were doing nothing to better themselves.

A liability to the President

But even taken in context, Gadon’s deplorable comments betray his misapprehension of the true face of poverty, which is often invisible and hardly reflected in official numbers.

The latest Philippine Statistics Authority data showed that the poverty rate dipped to 22.4 percent in the first half of 2023, from 23.7 percent in the same period in 2021. But the figures don’t tell the complete story of being poor in this country, glossing over important variables like hunger and unemployment. A recent Social Weather Stations poll, for instance, found that Filipino families who experienced “involuntary hunger,” or not having access to food at least once in the past three months, rose to 14.2 percent in March, from 12.6 percent in December.

To date, Gadon, whose identity as a “Marcos loyalist” has served him better than any of his other alleged qualifications, has demonstrated zero ability to address these problems. By letting Gadon keep his job and rewarding him with an avenue to spew falsities and sing songs, Malacañang showed extremely poor judgment on three fronts: addressing poverty, combating disinformation, and governing by merit.

It’s time the President realized that despite his loyalty to the Marcos family, Gadon, as one who has brought shame and disrepute to the government, is a walking and talking liability.

TAGS: Larry Gadon, PDI Editorial, Larry Gadon, PDI Editorial

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