FACT-CHECK: Marcos Jr. camp falsely claims he has never misrepresented his Oxford education

Thumbnail by Justin Delas Armas

By Billie Mercado, Han Escalante, & Gian Angnged

The camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Saturday wrongly claimed he has always been honest about his special diploma from the University of Oxford. 

“Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos has always been forthright on his conferment of a special diploma in social studies by the distinguished university and has never misrepresented his Oxford education,” Marcos Jr.’s chief-of-staff Vic Rodriguez said in a statement. 

Rodriguez also insisted that Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has a degree from the UK university. 

“We stand by the Degree confirmation which was issued by the University of Oxford. It is up to anyone to question or challenge this with the said university if they so please,” Rodriguez said. 

Special diploma not “comparable, superior, nor equivalent to” degree

The statement from Marcos Jr.’s camp came hours after a group of Filipino students and alumni of the University of Oxford clarified that he did not finish his degree, citing a confirmation made by Oxford in 2015

Official Statement of the Oxford Philippines Society

The Oxford Philippines Society, composed of around 200 Filipino students and alumni, added that while Marcos Jr. received a special diploma in social studies from the university in 1978, it is “not a degree, and neither is it comparable, superior nor equivalent to one.”

“A special diploma is not a course of higher education leading to an undergraduate or first degree or even a master’s degree,” the group continued.

Never misrepresented?

Marcos Jr.’s Senate website and own official website, however, still list his special diploma as an undergraduate degree as of writing. He has also equated his special diploma to a bachelor’s degree in an interview with Karen Davila in 2016

“To set the record straight, my educational record as posted in the Senate website and in my own official website is accurate,” Marcos Jr. claimed in 2015.  “I earned a diploma in political science at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University in England in 1978.” 

While Marcos Jr. has indeed “matriculated” at the University of Oxford in 1975 to read for a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, the Oxford Philippines Society said, matriculation is only a formal ceremony students are required to attend at the beginning of the course to mark their admission to the university.

The group also noted that Marcos Jr. failed in his first attempt at the preliminary examinations required by his degree program for continuing one’s studies and completing the degree. A contemporary of Marcos Jr. had earlier explained to Rappler that a special diploma was given to students “on the rare occasion that they failed their first year preliminary examinations and hence disqualified themselves from going on to receive a Bachelor’s degree.”

Disinformation prevalent amid upcoming 2022 elections

The group added that its clarification was “not a political statement” and was just meant to aid public discourse amid the pervasiveness of disinformation and fake news in this day and age.  

“Such disinformation prevents Filipinos from exercising their democratic rights in a fair and meaningful way, and we believe every Filipino should have access to correct information as we prepare to vote in May 2022,” it said.

Among the Facebook pages that published the false claim are LABAN PINAS and LABAN PINAS 2. As of writing, the posts have collectively garnered 352 reactions and 116 shares.

False claims from LABAN PINAS Facebook Page: 

False claims from LABAN PINAS 2 Facebook Page:

A day before the group issued its clarification, near-identical posts making the false claim that Marcos Jr. has never misrepresented his educational record began circulating on Facebook. The posts, published within minutes of each other, insisted that Marcos downplayed his achievements out of humility. 

The posts also claimed that special diplomas were “taught on a graduate level nowadays” and had the “same qualification” as a bachelor’s degree. However, the University of Oxford does not offer special diplomas to students anymore, as confirmed by Robert Wilkins, a tutor at Oxford’s St Edmund Hall. Even back then, special diplomas were only given to students who were no longer eligible to receive a degree after failing their preliminary examinations as stated earlier, therefore validating the stance of the Philippine Oxford Society that the special diploma is not “comparable, superior, nor equivalent” to a degree.