Gadon risks new disbarment case over HIV remarks

Gadon risks new disbarment case over HIV remarks
Lawyer Larry Gadon files his certificate of candidacy for the 2019 midterm elections at the Commission on Elections main office.

MANILA, Philippines — A support group for people living with HIV and AIDS is considering filing criminal and disbarment raps against lawyer Larry Gadon for falsely suggesting on air that the late President Benigno Aquino III had HIV.

Gadon made the remarks on the Karambola program carried by the DWIZ 882 station.

"The Red Whistle strongly condemns in unequivocal terms a statement made by Atty. Lorenzo ‘Larry’ Gadon, maliciously imputing that former President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III had HIV, in violation of Republic Act 11166 or the Philippine HIV Policy Act," they said in a statement.

"We are working with the community of people living with HIV to file a disbarment complaint and criminal charges against Atty. Gadon," the group said.

Section 44 (a) of RA 11166 holds that “it shall be unlawful to disclose, without written consent, information that a person has AIDS, has undergone HIV-related test, has HIV infection or HIV-related illnesses, or has been exposed to HIV.”

A video clip of the Karambola program on Thursday showed Gadon claiming that his “friend” informed him that Aquino had HIV.

The late president’s sisters in an official statement said Aquino died due to renal disease, secondary to diabetes early Thursday morning. He was 61.

Code of Professional Responsibility

The Red Whistle pointed out that Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer “shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.”

"Statements laced with malice like the one made by Atty. Gadon fuel HIV-related stigma and discrimination and offer no help in addressing the HIV epidemic in the country, which has the fastest rising number of new infections in the world," the group added.

Network to Stop AIDS Philippines, a coalition of 29 advocacy groups for HIV policies in the Philippines, in a separate statement called on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to hold Gadon accountable for failing to adhere the Code of Professional Responsibility.

“Regardless of his political inclinations, which is a constitutional right everyone should respect, to attempt to besmirch any individual, and to particularly do so on mass media, and in his capacity as a mass media practitioner, by alluding to their actual, perceived, or suspected HIV status is a prohibited act and practice, and does not help the estimated 97,000 Filipinos with HIV in the Philippines,” the group said on its Facebook page.

The group also urged the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and the KBP Standards Authority to hold Gadon to account under its rules prohibiting personal attacks that have no bearing on the public interest.

This is not the first time that Gadon faced disbarment calls. In 2019, the Supreme Court slapped Gadon with a three-month suspension order, stemming from a disbarment complaint against him.

Gadon is known for filing an impeachment complaint against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and again against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. The House held hearings on allegations against Sereno — who was ultimately removed by a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court — but has dismissed the more recent complaint against Leonen.

Gadon went viral on social media after he was recorded hurling profanities at supporters of Sereno when the Supreme Court held session in Baguio City and again in 2020 after being photographed in public not wearing a face mask despite pandemic guidelines. 

He is currently facing at least four other disbarment complaints.

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