A day after the World AIDS Day, Persons Living with HIV (“PLHIVs”) filed today a Disbarment Complaint against Atty. Larry Gadon (“Atty. Gadon”) over his baseless and untruthful remarks that former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III (“PNoy”) died due to complications of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV”).
Atty. Gadon’s irresponsible, dangerously misleading and sweeping generalizations like – mukhang kalansay, walang namamatay sa diabetes kung maraming pera, hindi gagaling kung may HIV, have pushed back efforts to end the HIV epidemic.
Complainants Elena S. Felix and Gem A. Cabreros have personally felt alluded to and attacked by Atty. Gadon’s statements. While complainants have been fighting the HIV epidemic for years now and have been staunch health advocates, they know that their fiercest enemy is neither the virus nor lack of help but it is the widespread misinformation, discrimination, and stigma they see and experience. Incidentally, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (“UNAIDS”) and the World Health Organization (“WHO”) cite fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reasons why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status and take antiretroviral drugs (“ARVs”).
What makes the case of Atty. Gadon particularly concerning is that he is a lawyer who, especially in a country like ours, commands the attention and respect of multitudes of people. Instead of defending the oppressed and the marginalized, nothing but invectives, profanity, disrespect, unsubstantiated rumors and misinformation were repeatedly spewed out by Atty. Gadon.
Certainly, this goes beyond any political color. In a democratic space, people are free to criticize their leaders – whether living or dead. One may dislike the former President, but any criticism should be within the bounds of law and should not be made to perpetuate stigma.
It is the fervent hope of the complainants that the members of the judiciary and of the legal system as a whole would facilitate access to justice for PLHIVs, challenge stigma, uphold human rights and dignity for all, and contribute to ending the HIV epidemic. By removing erring members of the bar, the judicial system can actively contribute to ending the HIV epidemic in the Philippines.
#disbarGadon #EndStigmaAndDiscrimination #WorldAIDSDay