Palace keeping him; ‘Secretary title sweeter’
The Supreme Court has ordered lawyer Lorenzo Gadon disbarred for “misogynistic, sexist, abusive and repeated intemperate language” but the Palace said this would not affect his appointment as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation.
In a statement, the Court said the disbarment of Gadon was unanimously supported by all 15 justices after finding him administratively liable for violating the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability “for the viral video clip where he repeatedly cursed and uttered profane remarks against journalist Raissa Robles.”
On its own, the Court initiated the disbarment proceedings, after issuing an order of preventive suspension from the practice of law against Gadon pending its decision on the case.
In a statement Monday night in anticipation of the High Court’s decision, Gadon said: “I will treat this matter as a personal concern as it will not also affect my commitment to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to help his administration achieve its goals and implement its programs to serve the public, particularly on the aspect of poverty alleviation.”
Then in a press conference on Wednesday, Gadon said he has “no regrets” verbally assaulting a journalist that eventually led to his disbarment, even claiming that the outburst may have contributed to electing President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Gadon stood by his action, saying he felt the need to “silence” journalist Raissa Robles, who was allegedly spreading “lies” against Mr. Marcos during the 2022 campaign period.
“The word secretary is sweeter than attorney,” he added, referring to his new role as Presidential Adviser on Poverty Alleviation.
In its ruling, the Court found the video clip “indisputably scandalous that it discredits the legal profession.”
The Court cited Gadon “for violating Canon II on Propriety, of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability, which imposes the standard that ‘[a] lawyer shall, at all times, act with propriety and maintain the appearance of propriety in personal and professional dealings, observe honesty, respect, and courtesy, and uphold the dignity of the legal profession consistent with the highest standards of ethical behavior.’”
“Gadon, unfortunately, failed to realize that lawyers are expected to avoid scandalous behavior, whether in their public or private life,” the PIO said apparently quoting from the ruling.
It said that “Gadon has been previously convicted by the Court and suspended from the practice of law for three months for similarly using offensive and intemperate language, and was warned that a repetition of the same offense will merit a more severe sanction.”
It also said, “there are six other administrative cases pending before the Office of the Bar Confidant against Gadon, and four before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.”
“Although these cases have yet to be decided, the volume of administrative complaints filed against attorney Gadon indubitably speaks of his character,” the Court said in its decision.
The PIO said the SC “cited Gadon in direct contempt of court for his baseless allegations of partiality and bias against Senior Associate Justice Marvic MVF Leonen and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.”
Gadon sought to inhibit the two justices from acting on the case “on grounds which the SC found to be purely conjecture,” it said.
The Court reminded lawyers: “The privilege to practice law is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent intellectually, academically and, equally important, morally.
There is no room in this noble profession for misogyny and sexism. The Court will never tolerate abuse, in whatever form, especially when perpetrated by an officer of the court.”
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said on Wednesday that Gadon will remain in his post despite his disbarment from the high court.
In a statement, Bersamin said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr still expressed his confidence in Gadon and believe that he will do a “good job.”
Bersamin added that Gadon’s disbarment is a personal matter and will not affect his work as an anti-poverty czar.
On June 26, Gadon was named by Marcos as the Presidential Adviser on Poverty Alleviation due to his “wealth of experience” in various sectors as a legal counsel and a corporate executive.
Progressive groups slammed Gadon’s appointment as an anti-poverty adviser citing his lack of credibility and his attitude towards women.
Senator Risa Hontiveros urged President Marcos to reconsider the appointment of Gadon as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation.
“Not only was he disbarred, but he was also cited in direct contempt by the Supreme Court voting 15-0,” said Hontiveros.
She pointed out that a disgraced former attorney does not inspire confidence in the Cabinet.
She also said Gadon holds neither title nor expertise to justify his appointment.
“Pushing through with the decision will only demoralize the bureaucracy by incentivizing an official whom the Court unanimously does not trust. This will be a slap in the face for our legal professionals, and yet another black eye on good governance so early on in the current administration,” she added.
The opposition senator also commended the Supreme Court for its indignation about misogyny and sexism in the country’s institutions.
Senator Francis Escudero, on the other hand, said it is up to the President to decide.
He noted, however, that his current position does not require him to be a lawyer.
Escudero even congratulated the disbarred Gadon, saying he looked forward to working with him in poverty alleviation.
A lawyer-friend of Gadon, Mark Tolentino, challenged the disbarment order, citing the absence of a formal complaint filed by Robles.
Tolentino also questioned why the Supreme Court immediately posted the disbarment decision on its Twitter account.
Under the rules of court, he said, the confidentiality of the decision must be maintained until a final and executory decision is issued.
He said it was only a letter from the Foreign Correspondents Association, not a complaint from Robles, that was filed with the Court. — Rey E. Requejo and Charles Dantes
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