MANILA – Lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon, known for filing an impeachment complaint against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and who now represents Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, has not complied with the mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) requirement for lawyers since 2009, based on information from the Supreme Court MCLE Office.
In a certification dated October 2, 2019, the MCLE Office said Gadon had only attended 1 MCLE training on May 25, 2009 which was credited to the first compliance period from April 2001 to 2004, valid until April 2007.
Since then, Gadon has not attended MCLEs for the second up to the sixth compliance periods from April 2004 to April 2019.
Under SC’s Bar Matter No. 850, lawyers are required to attend at least 36 hours of continuing legal education every 3 years.
Lawyers who fail to comply shall pay a non-compliance fee at the end of the compliance period.
If they fail to justify their non-compliance, they will be listed as a delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and subject to its disciplinary power.
“You will be listed when you don’t comply as delinquent member of the IBP and which means that you can’t practice law, technically,” lawyer Jun Viterbo, a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), told ABS-CBN News.
The certification was issued upon the request of FLAG lawyers Rafael Aquino, Chel Diokno, Ted Te, Erin Tañada and Fhilip Sawali.
Four of its members -- Otso Diretso senatorial candidates Diokno and Tañada, former SC spokesperson Te and Sawali, the chief of staff of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, are facing sedition, libel, among other raps before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the viral “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos.
All of them have denied any participation in the alleged ouster plot against the President.
Gadon is Advincula’s lawyer who assisted him in filing the sedition raps.
According to the certification, the FLAG lawyers requested the certification because they noticed that in Advincula’s filings before the DOJ, Gadon never stated the required details in signing pleadings, such as his roll number, IBP details, professional tax receipt details and MCLE compliance details.
The FLAG lawyers said they are studying the possibility of filing a disbarment case against Gadon for holding himself out as a lawyer who can represent clients, despite his MCLE non-compliance.
Sought for comment, Gadon said he was busy that’s why he was unable to attend MCLE classes but he insisted he is not prohibited from practicing law.
“The FLAG lawyers should know that the MCLE is required only if you will sign a pleading…But it does not bar you from practicing law,” he told ABS-CBN News in a video message.
But Viterbo pointed out, Gadon signed Advincula’s motion to admit counter-affidavit filed with the DOJ dated September 10, 2019 as assisting counsel, without any additional information.
“Kung sinasabi niya dapat di siya nagsa-sign, in this case he signed,” he said.
But Gadon is confident he will only face fines following a Supreme Court decision in July 2015 and a resolution in January 2014 which supposedly reduced the penalty.
“Magpe-penalty ka lang ng siguro P1,000, P2,000 ganun,” he said.
Bar Matter No. 1922 contained in the January 2014 resolution Gadon referred to prescribes the following penalties for non-disclosure of current MCLE compliance/exemption:
- fines ranging from P2,000 to P4,000 for the first to third offenses
- listing as a delinquent member for the Bar
- discharge of non-compliant lawyer from the case
Gadon is currently facing at least three disbarment cases – one of which involves him cursing at Sereno supporters in Baguio at the height of the quo warranto petition.
He is currently in Russia and was recently photographed with some government officials who joined President Rodrigo Duterte for an official visit.
Justifying his trip, Gadon told the media in a Viber message:
“I spent for my trip. I joined my two clients who have been in business with Russian companies and establishing more trade relations with Russian business associates.”
“I have been a lawyer for more than 30 years. Of course I can spend for my trip. The photos with other government officials are just normal among people who know each other. It should not be given any meaning nor insinuations of any kind. Selfies are just fashionable in this age of modern social media. Everybody does it,” he added.
Aside from filing the impeachment complaint against Sereno and representing Advincula, Gadon also represents Guillermina Barrido alias Guillermina Arcillas, the Davao-based businesswoman who accused former Senator Antonio Trillanes and 3 others of kidnapping with serious illegal detention, and Perfecto Tagalog, who accused Trillanes of recruiting him to tag presidential son Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte to rice smuggling.
Both the sedition and kidnapping raps are pending before the DOJ.
Gadon was also part of the legal team of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and is a self-confessed supporter of the Marcoses.