MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr branded the Rappler article questioning his claims on his educational background as "political" and an "attack" over the Bangsamoro debate.
Marcos said that he was "not really" surprised when the story came out, linking it to his position on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the wake of the Mamasapano clash.
"Because I think I've been critical during this whole Bangsamoro issue, I'm seen as a critic, kaya siguro some people decided that kailangan din akong balikan," Marcos told reporters on Monday, March 2. (Maybe that's why some people decided that they need to get back at me.)
Asked who he was referring to, Marcos said, "Ay, hindi na bale." (Oh, nevermind.)
Watch the video here:
The chairman of the Senate local government committee implied that he was being singled out over his position on the Bangsamoro.
"Many other people have been talking about the same things I've been talking about. Ako lang ang inatake (I am the only one being attacked). So I guess it's political."
The senator has suspended Senate hearings on the Bangsamoro bill pending the results of the investigations into the January 25 clash between elite cops and Moro rebels, among them members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Marcos said the bill should not be rushed, and lawmakers must scrutinize its content. He called on the MILF to show its sincerity in the peace process.
The bill aims to create an expanded region in Muslim Mindanao with more powers and resources than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to help end 4 decades of conflict.
Marcos has also questioned the role President Benigno Aquino III played in the operation to arrest top terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, saying he created an "ill-defined" chain of command in the police force. Aquino's close friend, resigned police chief Alan Purisima, directed the operation even while on suspension over corruption charges.
The clash killed 44 elite cops, 18 members of the MILF, and at least 3 civilians. The incident threatens to derail the peace process after 17 years of negotiations.
Last week, Rappler ran an exclusive report questioning Marcos' resumé. Based on research and interviews, we said that Marcos' name did not appear on the school records of Oxford University, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
On his website and the Senate website, Marcos said that he has a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford (1975-1978), and a master's in business administration (MBA) from Wharton (1979-1981).
After refusing our requests for interviews before the publication of the story, Marcos issued a statement when the story finally came out. The senator said he "earned a diploma in political science" from Oxford, but did not finish his MBA in Wharton because he was then elected vice governor of Ilocos Norte in a term spanning 1980-1983.
Rappler stands by its story. In an editorial on Monday, the social news network said Marcos' claims are not a minor matter but the issue strikes at the trust that bonds officials and the public.
"The process of making our officials accountable begins with transparency and correct information. The law requires full disclosure, including family and relations, education, assets, and businesses," stated the editorial.
'I suppose I have a degree'
Marcos reiterated that his educational background as it appeared on the Senate website, and his own website, was accurate.
Yet he failed to clarify differences between his resumé, and what he later admitted to be his actual educational attainment.
Asked about comments that a diploma is different from a degree, Marcos said, "Yeah, I got a diploma. What do you get when you graduate? You get a diploma."
Pressed further if he has a degree from Oxford, Marcos said, "I got my diploma eh, I suppose."
He also denied that he was expelled from Oxford. "No, not really."
On Wharton, Marcos insisted that the dates will show that he could not have possibly finished his MBA while becoming vice governor at the same time.
"Kahit ano'ng gawin mo sa dates na 'yun, 'di mo talaga p'wedeng sasabihin na nagtapos ka eh. 'Di ako natapos. I was writing my dissertation, I never got it. Pinauwi na ako."
(However you treat the dates, you cannot say I finished the MBA. I did not finish. They asked me to come home.)
Marcos maintained that he did not misrepresent his credentials on his website. "It's the same. It's exactly as I say what it was."
The son of former President Ferdinand Marcos said that his office is now in the process of retrieving his educational records.
"Sulat kami nang sulat, kinukuha namin lahat ng papel because most of the papers that have to do with that were left in the Palace. So wala na sa amin," he said. (We keep writing [the schools]. We are asking for the papers because most of the papers were left in the Palace. So they're not with us.")
Marcos though humorously responded to the story.
His first reaction when the topic was raised? "Binababa ang IQ ko eh." (They are bringing down my IQ.) – Rappler.com