Imee Marcos’ refusal to set school record straight and what it means for public office

June 1, 2019 - 8:00 AM
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Imee Marcos in the proclamation
Senator-elect Imee Marcos smiling as she attended the proclamation of winners in the 2019 midterm elections. (Facebook/ImeeMarcos)

Senator-elect Imee Marcos’ refusal to acknowledge her falsified educational background continues to earn criticisms from Filipinos who wonder about its implications now that she would have fresh term in public office.

The eldest daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared in an interview with broadcast journalist Karen Davila on May 30, Thursday where she was asked to address the issue “to end it.”

“I’ve answered it a gazillion times. It’s an issue na napakaraming issue… para sa akin, I’ve answered it before. Ang sinabi ko nga, na as far as I know, eto ‘yung ginawa ko,” she said.

“Marami akong kaklase sa UP College of Law. Ang pagkaintindi namin nag-graduate kami. So ‘eto nga, sana isantabi na ‘yan, tigilan na mga ‘yan at diretso na tayo sa trabaho,” Marcos continued.

Davila asked if she would “apologize” to the schools after the controversy. The senator-elect responded that she has nothing to say sorry for.

“What will I apologize for? I’m still getting alumni letters and I keep receiving all these invites. I’m confused (as) to what I’m supposed to apologize about,” Marcos replied.

A diploma is the only official proof of one’s completion of studies in a particular educational institution since it bears the degree the student has completed, as well as signatures of school officials and a seal.

Filipinos who were able to watch her interview pointed out that the issue is not about the “mistake” she made on her record but the fact that she lied about it in the first place.

“This is not about the ‘mistake’ on her educational background, but the intent to falsify and fool the Filipino people!” a Twitter user wrote.

During the campaign period, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales stressed that public officers are bound by the Philippine Constitution to practice honesty and integrity in service.

“‘The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service,'” Morales said, quoting Section 27 of the Constitution, which reads:

“The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.”

“Upholding the Constitution is part of every public officer’s oath of office,” the former chief graft-buster added.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who is the second highest public official in the land, similarly mentioned that honesty is a huge factor when it comes to determining a person’s integrity.

“Iyong honesty, napakalaking factor sa integrity ng isang tao. Kung wala kang ganoon, dapat hindi mo nga iniisip maglingkod kasi papaano ka makakapaglingkod kung may problema ka sa sarili mo?” she said.

The question over Imee’s scholastic record

Marcos’ curriculum vitae was released while she was about to embark on the campaign trail.

It claimed that she finished as a “class valedictorian” at Santa Catalina School, earned a title in religion and politics from Princeton University and graduated from law school at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

A viral post on Reddit Philippines, however, claimed that she flunked all of her subjects.

Interaksyon tried to verify the supposed report card starting in October 2018 and found out that Marcos did not receive diplomas from the schools.

Santa Catalina School said that while Marcos attended the California boarding school, she did not graduate at all.

“While the student you inquired about attended our school for a brief period in the fall of 1972, she is not a graduate,” Santa Catalina School assistant head John Aimé said.

Princeton University also debunked Marcos’ claims and confirmed that the senator-elect never obtained a diploma in her brief stay as a student.

The University of the Philippines-Diliman similarly denied that she finished law school and said that there isn’t a “record of her graduation from UPD nor any honors or academic distinctions received.”

When Marcos was interviewed on dzMM six months before the elections, she avoided queries on her educational background and suggested that the issue is merely politicking.

“It’s the season (of elections),” she simply answered.