Philippines Report

Due to ‘abusive’ language, SC suspends ‘bobo’ heckler Gadon

'bobo' heckler Gadon

 The Supreme Court has suspended Larry Gadon, a failed senatorial candidate and counsel representing Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula in the sedition complaint against opposition figures, over foul language.

In a resolution dated June 26, the Supreme Court 2nd Division suspended Gadon for 3 months over his use of “abusive and intemperate language” towards a doctor and a fellow-lawyer and words which “lessen the confidence of the public in the Philippine judicial system.”

Gadon, known as the man behind the impeachment complaint against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, drew public attention in 2018 for calling the then top magistrate's supporters “mga bobo” (stupid), and flashing the middle finger at them outside the high court compound in Baguio City. 

During his failed electoral campaign, he styled himself as an “anti-bobo” crusader. He later claimed he lost because he was cheated. 

The case stemmed from a 2009 disbarment complaint filed by a dermatologist whom Gadon allegedly unilaterally suspended in March 2009 from a mall-based healthcare facility on the basis of a complaint from a patient.

When the dermatologist complained of reduced clinic hours, Gadon, as corporate secretary and vice president of the healthcare facility, responded by revoking her privilege to work with the clinic through a harshly-worded letter.

In the letter dated April 23, 2009, Gadon told the dermatologist that the clinic can make her work unproductive because they can hire another in-house dermatologist to compete with her schedule, “that is if you will win” after “8 to 10 years (RTC, CA, SC)” “as we have a lot of resources.”

He was referring to the different court levels: the Regional Trial Court, Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. 

The high court found that this letter violated Canon 1 of the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), which prohibits lawyers from counselling or abetting activities aimed at defying the law or lessening the confidence in the legal system.

“Atty. Gadon’s remarks about the slow justice system and insinuations that cases are won based on abundance of resources, tramp the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and the judicial system and adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law,” it said.

It also gave credence to the findings of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline that Gadon’s responses in the pleadings he filed during the investigation of the disbarment complaint against him were “malicious and arrogant.”

These remarks included calling the complainant-dermatologist and her lawyers’ statements “outrageously funny and ridiculous,” “totally devoid of any logic and reason” and “outrageously hilarious.”

At one point, Gadon asked, “Are these people suffering from Alzheimer’s or what have you? Where do they get these gutter logic and reasoning?” and referred to complainant’s lawyer as an “ambulance chaser who is full of bravado, empty rhetoric, and grandstanding.”

In another pleading, Gadon said: “This is the dumbest and the most stupid statement,” “people who have read this statement nearly died of laughing,” “the people responsible for writing this statement ought to commit suicide for being too ignorant.”

The high court said these statements violated Rule 8.01 of Canon 8 of the CPR, which prohibits lawyers from using abusive, offensive or improper language. It reminded Gadon to control his “emotional outbursts.”

“The adversarial nature of our legal system does not sanction an attorney’s use of foul or intemperate language, whether spoken or in pleadings,” read the resolution.

“…[T]e language imputing ignorance and wrong-doing to complainant’s counsel goes against the Rule on candor, fairness and truthfulness since Atty. Gadon did not argue against the complainant’s issues but against the propriety of the legal advice dispensed by the counsel of the complainant. This is uncalled for and will not help in the disposition of the case at hand. Instead, it muddles the issues and misleads the focus of the judicial process altogether,” it added.

The high court, however, found the penalty of disbarment too severe and imposed a 3-month suspension instead, “to commence immediately upon receipt of this Resolution…with stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.”

It ordered Gadon to report the date of his receipt within 5 days in order for the Court to determine when his suspension takes effect.

GADON: SUSPENSION NOT YET IN EFFECT

Gadon, who is currently in Russia, told ABS-CBN News that he has not yet received a copy of the ruling “so it’s not yet implemented.”

The June 26, 2019 resolution was stamped received by the SC Public Information Office on August 19, 2019 and is already available on the SC website but has not yet been announced to the media.

Asked of his next steps, he said he might file a motion for reconsideration the moment he receives a copy of the resolution, though he noted it might take 3 years to resolve the motion compared to sitting out the 3-month suspension.

But he insisted, his suspension should not affect the cases he is handling.

“It does not affect Bikoy cases, kasi aside from not being implemented, in the Bikoy case, the complainant is CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group). My role is personal legal counsel adviser of Bikoy,” he said.

“So even assuming for the sake of argument that the suspension is in effect, my role as counsel for Bikoy can’t be prevented,” he added.

Gadon accompanied Advincula when he filed the sedition complaint with the Department of Justice on July 18 and attended the preliminary investigation hearings on August 9 and September 6.

He signed Advincula’s motion to admit counter-affidavit dated September 10, 2019 which was submitted to the DOJ panel of prosecutors.

Gadon also represents Guillermina Barrido alias Guillermina Arcillas, the Davao-based businesswoman who accused former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 3 others of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.

On Friday, it was reported that the Free Legal Assistance Group is mulling filing a disciplinary complaint against Gadon after the group found out that he has not been attending the compulsory seminars for lawyers called the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for the past 10 years.

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