Questions hound Gadon’s presidential appointment as anti-poverty czar

June 27, 2023 - 5:33 PM
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Larry Gadon
Lawyer Larry Gadon in the national convention of Food and Drug Administration Philippines at the Philippine International Convention Center in this photo from his Facebook on Nov. 24, 2022 (attygadon/Facebook)

Questions hounded the appointment of suspended lawyer Larry Gadon as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation as recollections of past issues related to him appeared online.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had tapped the longtime Marcos loyalist who the office said will play a “pivotal role” in advising the chief executive “on strategies and policies aimed at combating poverty.”

Gadon is also expected to advise the president on improving the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The PCO said he will likewise “work closely with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to design and implement comprehensive programs to address the root causes of poverty.”

“His wealth of experience as a corporate executive and legal counsel in diverse sectors, including manufacturing, information technology, realty development, healthcare, resorts and hotels, construction, and trading, will contribute to the formulation of innovative and sustainable poverty alleviation strategies,” the office said on Monday, June 26.

The PCO added that Gadon’s new post “reflects the government’s commitment to address one of the most pressing challenges” of the country.

The lawyer ran for senator in the 2022 national elections under UniTeam, the electoral alliance of Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte.

Gadon’s appointment failed to satisfy some Filipinos who recalled controversies that have mired the suspended lawyer.

“What does it tell about you if you appoint someone who thinks and speaks like a common internet troll, was suspended by the Supreme Court over his verbal assault on a journalist, talk ever so casually about genocide?” a Twitter user reacted, sharing a clip of Gadon talking about killing Muslims in Mindanao.

Controversial figure

Gadon is most notorious for heckling a group that protested the impeachment case against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018.

He shouted words such as “bobo” (a derogatory term for “stupid” or “dumb”) and raised his middle finger, a conduct that widely alarmed legal professionals and other Filipinos.

READ: As Larry Gadon flips the bird, legal professionals recall ethical code

The lawyer was also indefinitely suspended by the Supreme Court in January 2022 for hurling profanities against veteran journalist Raissa Robles after she supposedly called Marcos, then a presidential bet, as a tax evader.

Gadon likewise made headlines in the run-up to the 2016 elections when he called for the killings of Muslims in an interview.

He clarified that he was only talking about terrorists or those creating chaos in the southern Philippines.

Another Twitter user asked if Gadon was really qualified to take the post on poverty alleviation.

“Is Gadon an economist? A social worker? Any experience in working with communities? No! He can’t even comply with his MCLE!” the user wrote, referring to the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education in the legal profession.

Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel had similar sentiments.

“Other comments aside, how is this post different from those in NAPC? Akala ko gusto ng gobyerno mag-‘rightsize’. Redundant high-level posts are filled [with] questionable personalities while many contractual gov’t workers might lose jobs because of [the] Marcos Jr. admin [administration] plans to downsize,” he tweeted.

NAPC is the National Anti-Poverty Commission, a 25-year-old government agency tasked to coordinate poverty reduction programs by national and local governments. It also ensures that marginalized sectors participate in government decision-making processes.

For the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, a national democratic mass organization of peasants in the country, Gadon’s appointment to the poverty alleviation post was “an insult.”

“[Malacañang] making a mockery of the people’s plight and dire situation,” it tweeted.

Gadon has also faced a number of disbarment complaints in the past.

These included his remarks against Muslims, his alleged dishonesty, arrogance, and rudeness during the impeachment proceedings of Sereno, his “bobo” comments, and false claims that former president Noynoy Aquino died due to the human immunodeficiency virus.

RELATED: Recap: Disbarment complaints vs senatorial aspirant Larry Gadon

Citing some background about him, the PCO said that Gadon has a baccalaureate degree in management from the Far Eastern University in Manila. He also finished law school at the same institution.

The office added that the lawyer has “held prominent positions” such as the chairmanship of APU, AsiaGroup Philippines, vice president of Kolonwel Trading Corp, and director of esteemed institutions such as Our Lady of Lourdes International Medical Center and Perpetual Help Hospital.

“Prior to his appointment, he served as the Managing Partner of Gadon and Associates Law Office and an Associate at Antonio Abad and Associates Law Office, where he showcased his legal acumen and commitment to serving the public interest,” the PCO said.

Gadon said that his first project as an anti-poverty czar is to launch a nutrition program called “BBM: Batang Busog, Malusog,” patterned after the famous initials of the chief executive.

The lawyer said it would include nutrition and feeding programs.

Philstar.com reports that presidential advisers receive a payroll equivalent to Salary Grade 31.

In the latest tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, this translates to a base monthly salary of P278,434.