A lawyer running for the Philippine Senate failed to hold his temper during a university forum yesterday, even calling a student “stupid” for calling him out for his defense of the Marcos family.
Larry Gadon was one of four speakers in a forum for senatorial candidates at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City yesterday when an anonymous audience member asked him the question: “Why do you say that there was no corruption in the Marcos era?”
He said that while the Marcos administration allegedly only had a PHP467 billion (US$8.8 billion) budget for 20 years, it was able to produce large-scale infrastructures like highways, hospitals, and cultural centers. Gadon compared this to the administration of Marcos’ successor and political rival Corazon Aquino, who he alleged had a PHP1.7 trillion (US$32.1 billion) budget for six years but did not have high-scale projects.
His answer can be seen at around the 1:19:00 mark of this live stream.
This, Gadon said, proves that there was no corruption during Marcos’ regime.
His defense comes despite the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s estimate that the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth is between US$5 billion to US$10 billion. Only about PHP170billion (US$3.2 million) has been recovered in the past 30 years.
A student in the audience pointed this out, albeit quite harshly, by shouting “liar” at Gadon. The senatorial candidate responds by saying: “I can debate with you anytime but not in this forum because there are rules already given by the organizers.”
Event organizers reminded the candidates and audience before the event started that they cannot use foul language during the forum. They also underlined that the event was not a debate and should not be treated as one.
“I’m not lying, you are, you are just ignorant. Don’t debate with me here. I’ll debate with you anytime but not here. There are rules. I want to follow the rules here,” Gadon said, visibly irked.
The student seems to have said something else, which led Gadon to have him kicked out of the venue, or else.
Now even angrier, he said: “I strongly demand that this fellow be excluded from this event. You are wasting my time.”
He followed this up with a side comment, saying “Eh, bobo eh,” which translates into “He’s stupid.”
Gadon seems to love saying the word “bobo.”
Last year, he went viral after being caught shouting the insult at those who protested his complaint against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
This turned him into a meme but he has since co-opted the phrase “hindi sila bobo (they are not stupid),” and has used it as a tagline.
Forum moderators tried to keep everyone calm, saying that they will let the student off with a warning first, but Gadon was not satisfied.
“No, no, I demand that this guy be excluded. That’s the rules,” he said.
Gadon eventually agreed to let the student stay, but not without boasting too.
“Any word from him will really, I will walk out. Don’t waste my time. I am more important than you,” he said.
The heated exchange is now viral on Philippine social media after a student posted a video of the incident on Twitter.
HELLO, VOTERS OF THE PHILIPPINES, JUST A FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT WE SHOULD NEVER VOTE GADON BECAUSE:
1. He called my classmate “bobo” after calling him a liar when he said that there was NO CORRUPTION during Marcos’ era. pic.twitter.com/Dr4Tf4e0Vy
— Wasteland, Baby! (@EllaTheMisfit) March 18, 2019
But it’s not just Gadon that’s being slammed. His daughter, Alarice Gadon is also in hot water after she took a photo of the student and posted it on social media.
She said in English and Filipino: “I am surprised that despite Cebu being so successful, there are still people whose minds are closed to the truth.”
She also addressed the student, saying: “You should be thankful that I can be restrained but I really wanted to scream at you. Why? You are entitled to your beliefs and opinions but f*ck it’s so rude. This is not the venue, that was such a communist move, very yellow.”
“Yellow” is what the opposition Liberal Party is called, which includes members of the Aquino family, the Marcoses’ rivals.
Alarice’s post has been deleted but screenshots have been making their rounds online.
One Facebook user named Kay Conales addressed Alarice and defended the student, calling him a “brilliant, articulate, and socially aware young man who understands Philippine political history well enough to know that Marcos was a dictator, murderer, and plunderer.”
Gadon is part of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), which is affiliated with President Marcos. He also defended the Marcoses in a televised debate last month, saying that he does not believe the president stole from the country.
He also made headlines in 2017 when he filed a complaint against then Chief Justice Sereno, which led to her ousting.
Based on the February survey pollster Pulse Asia released yesterday, Gadon ranks 27-34 out of 12 available Senate seats.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.