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Editorial

Fake news, nothing more

/ 05:45 AM January 20, 2019

An enduring (if execrable) image of lawyer Larry Gadon is his flipping the bird at a group of supporters of ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

It seemed to matter little to the lawyer that he was doing the obscene gesture in public, covered by TV cameras at that, preparatory to appearing before the high tribunal. This seems just characteristic of this controversial figure who has courted publicity with shameless eagerness and unthinking bravado.

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Gadon once more “flipped the bird” not just at the Filipino public but at history itself when he asserted that the 1987 Constitution was improperly drafted and then ratified without going through the “proper process.”

Gadon made the outrageous remarks in an interview aired over the government TV station that fortunately boasts of only a minuscule viewership, which may explain why Gadon’s explosive assertions ended in a pathetic whimper.

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So why, despite the lackluster reception, are Gadon’s claims now receiving attention from this paper?

Because the truth still matters. Because the lawyer’s assertions were made over the media and so are now part of the public record, even if they are patently false. Because no one should be allowed to tell a bald-faced lie and get away with it.

Gadon’s “fake news” was aired over the show “Pros & Cons” which, by the way, is hosted by an undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, in an episode devoted to Charter change.

In the show, as documented by the news website Vera Files which conducts regular “fact checks” of news items and statements of public figures, Gadon insisted that “If you look at it, the 1987 Constitution does not really represent the true Filipino spirit because those who drafted it were simply selected by (former president) Cory Aquino.”

The lawyer then added that “after (the constitutional commission) finished drafting, they immediately designated it as the Constitution. It did not really go through the right process.”

One wonders from what planet Gadon hails and if he was even alive during the campaign for ratification and the voting itself. Because any Filipino who was alive and of age in 1987 vividly remembers taking part in the first electoral exercise after Edsa.

There was hardly any coercion or intimidation involved, and even remnants of the Marcos regime, including the then resurgent Juan Ponce Enrile who figured in the events leading up to the Edsa revolt, were allowed to campaign against ratification.

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These contrary voices were soundly defeated. Vera Files says the 1987 Constitution was “ratified by eight in 10 voting Filipinos in a national plebiscite (on) Feb. 2 the same year.”

Of the 21.8 million votes cast from 83,000 precincts nationwide, “16.6 million were for the Charter’s ratification and only 4.95 million against. Some 200,000 Filipinos abstained.” The “Yes” vote was an overwhelming 77.04 percent.

Before the drafting and voting itself, public hearings were conducted in compliance with a directive from the 1986 provisional constitution which ordered the hearings to “insure that the people will have adequate participation in the formulation of the New Constitution.”

One wonders then from whence comes Gadon’s amazing chutzpah. After all, his incendiary claims could have (and have been) easily verified, and he could very well have looked up the “real” facts before he opened his mouth.

Could he have been merely seeding the propaganda ground as part of an administration effort to undermine the 1987 Constitution?

It will be recalled that a proposed measure to revise the Charter, including shifting the form of government from unitary to federal, was approved by the House of Representatives (after dubious maneuverings) last Dec. 12. The draft measure was also recently transmitted to the Senate.

Gadon, himself a vocal advocate of the shift to federalism, is one of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s in-house counsels, and has described himself as a “true-blooded Marcos loyalist.” He is also currently facing disbarment cases, including one for his finger-raising antics aimed at Sereno supporters.

Chalk up his false claims, then, as part of a ham-handed campaign to discredit the current Constitution, a campaign which fortunately has yet to gain traction among the public.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, fake news, Inquirer editorial, Larry Gadon
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