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Marcos’ gamble on Gadon

Isn't it ironic that shortly after committing to fight disinformation, Marcos appoints a creator and spreader of what the public loosely calls "fake news?"

Jul 3, 2023

Tita C. Valderama

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4-minute read

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must be feeling lonely at the top. That’s why he needs Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon for some comic relief in his Cabinet.

He took a gamble in appointing Gadon as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation.

Gadon, who has gained popularity (or should it be notoriety?) for his use of vulgar language and red-tagging of perceived communists, was rewarded for his loyalty, although he refused to recognize his appointment as a political accommodation.

One day after the appointment was announced, the Supreme Court’s 15-0 vote to disbar Gadon for “misogynistic, sexist, abusive and repeated intemperate language” came out.

Despite the disbarment, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, a retired chief justice, said Gadon “will continue in his new role” and that the president “felt that [Gadon’s] work as presidential adviser will not get affected by his status as a lawyer” and “believes he will do a good job.”

But wait! Exactly one week before Gadon’s appointment was announced on June 26, Marcos said: “fake news should have no place in modern society,” as he called on government agencies to uphold the people’s freedom of information.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 14th edition of the International Conference of Information Commissioners in Pasay City on June 19, Marcos vowed to continue fighting fake news. He said the government will undertake a massive media literacy campaign to fight misinformation and disinformation.

By appointing Gadon to a Cabinet position seven days later, Marcos shows apparent insincerity in his own pronouncements. Gadon had been fact-checked a number of times for spreading disinformation. But in his public statements, he said he abhorred “fake news” and he has been denouncing fact checkers, particularly those that have found him circulating false, misleading, out of context and other forms of wrong information.

Gadon has repeatedly claimed that the human rights violations during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. had been proven to be false and were mere invention and propaganda by the opposition. He is wrong. The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board has recognized that 11,103 Filipinos suffered under the Marcos Sr. regime and they are eligible to receive compensation to be drawn from the P10-billion fund forfeited from the Swiss accounts of the late dictator’s family.

When former president Benigno Aquino III died in June 2021, Gadon claimed without presenting any proof that he had died of HIV-AIDS. The Aquino family said the cause of death was renal disease, secondary to diabetes.

In 2019, the Supreme Court suspended Gadon for three months for his “offensive” language towards a Manila-based doctor. In January 2022, he was again indefinitely suspended over his “abhorrent behavior” in a vlog that has gone viral, where he launched an expletive-laced rant against journalist Raissa Robles, who wrote a critical piece about Marcos Jr.’s tax liabilities. The case led to his disbarment by a unanimous vote 17 months later.

Bersamin said Malacañang was aware of Gadon’s cases before the Supreme Court. Marcos must have known Gadon’s character, having been with him on the campaign trail for at least three months prior to the May 2022 elections. Isn’t it ironic that shortly after committing to fight disinformation, Marcos appoints a creator and spreader of what the public loosely calls “fake news?”

Marcos and Gadon appear to be poles apart, at least in the way they speak in public and deal with people they disagree with. Marcos speaks gently and has so far not been caught on camera using curse words, pointing fingers at another, suggesting that someone have sex with a dog, or calling somebody “bobo,” which means stupid, fool, or idiot.

Perhaps that’s where Marcos and Gadon can have complementarity: Marcos would appear to be the “good guy” and Gadon, the “bad guy.” The latter would be Malacanang’s unguided missile or in-house troll against administration critics.

But even before taking his oath as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation, Gadon has already disclosed that one of his plans is to run for the Senate for the fourth time in 2028.

Through a feeding program he calls Batang Busog, Malusog, which goes with the acronym BBM, Gadon said he would be travelling across the country to promote this and encourage big businesses to adopt public schools where pupils will be given a free meal once or twice a week.

Uhm! Failing to get a Senate seat in the 2016, 2019 and 2022 elections on his own, Gadon now has a vehicle, courtesy of the people’s money, to carry out his pre-election campaigning in the guise of a feeding program for the poor as a presidential adviser on poverty alleviation.

It appears that with Gadon in the Cabinet, Marcos wins a defender at the taxpayers’ expense.

Gadon said he stands a good chance of winning. He said the 10 million votes he got in the 2022 election was more than what veteran senators like Richard Gordon, Antonio Trillanes and Leila De Lima got. He also claimed to be the most applauded, next to Robin Padilla, during campaign sorties. He said in jest that Padilla had a 10% edge over him because he is better looking.

And to those criticizing his appointment, Gadon has this to say: “Mag-presidente muna kayo!

 

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.
This column also appeared in The Manila Times.

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