The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it joins the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and several others in condemning lawyer Larry Gadon’s verbal assault on journalist Raissa Robles on social media as well as mounting calls for his disbarment.
“We urge the Supreme Court and Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to act on them and on this recent incident,” the NUJP in a statement said.
The group said it joins with FOCAP’s and other calls to “discipline this wayward member of the bar of the boorishness and clearly unbecoming conduct. It is truly unfortunate that social media sites could be wantonly used as a platform to attack independent journalists in this gruesome manner.”
FOCAP earlier described Gadon’s online rant against Robles as “violent and aggressive verbal assault” as well as “atrocious and beastly behavior.”
“The profanity, expletives and sexist insults against Robles violate Philippine law on public decency, gender respect and the core principles of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)/It was utterly despicable, and reflective of the belligerent impunity independent and courageous Filipino journalists face for doing their constitutionally protected work in the country,” FOCAP said.
Robles is the Philippine correspondent for the South China Morning Post.
Gadon, a senatorial aspirant and backer of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., was furious over Robles’ remarks on social media platform Twitter that the failure of the son of the late Philippine dictator to file income tax returns in the past raises the question of whether he paid the taxes at all.
“Like all Filipinos, Gadon has the right to challenge statements from journalists in the interest of public discourse, but never with such venom and malice that openly flout civility, respect and human rights which are protected by the country’s laws,” FOCAP said.
The media group said Gadon’s tirade is concerning because of his large following on social media who may be led to believe that using violent, misogynistic and sexist language is acceptable just because it is done online.
“We are concerned as well because online harassment can lead to or encourage harassment offline,” it said.
“This is not the first time Gadon has displayed the kind of behavior and speech that is in every sense an attack not only on Raissa and other journalists but all decent, God-fearing and law-abiding Filipinos,” the group added.
The NUJP said that, according to reports, Gadon already facing at least one disbarment complaint for maliciously alleging former President Benigno Aquino died of HIV.
Gabriela Women’s Party on Saturday said Gadon’s speech was full of profanities and misogynistic remarks and was a dangerous incitement of hate and violence toward Robles in a lame attempt to dispute the reportage on Marcos Jr.’s failure to file income tax returns.””We support calls for the disbarment of Attorney Gadon as we should no longer tolerate such barbaric behavior that tarnishes the legal profession. The rabid supporter of the Marcoses must be taught a harsh lesson for all his grossly inappropriate verbal assaults,” the group added.
Rights group Karapatan has also condemned Gadon’s “barrage of violent and misogynistic insults” against Robles that “portray the increasingly hostile and violent online environment threatening press freedom in all fronts in the country.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)