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Philippines presidential candidate did not complete Oxford degree as he claims

Thomas Britton reports.

The University of Oxford has confirmed that Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., candidate in the upcoming presidential election in the Philippines, did not complete his degree at the University. 

Mr. Marcos Jr. has claimed repeatedly in the past that he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from St. Edmund Hall, and has used his degree and academic background to argue that he is uniquely qualified to be the President of the Philippines. 

However, Oxford University has confirmed that this claim is partly false. Although Mr. Marcos Jr. did matriculate at St. Edmund Hall in 1975, Oxford has said “according to our records, he did not complete his degree, but was awarded a special diploma in Social Studies in 1978.”

This sort of Special Diploma is not considered as prestigious as a full degree, and was often awarded to students who failed to complete their degree.

The university confirmed in 2015 that Marcos Jr. never completed his degree, and an article on his own campaign website prints the statement of the Oxford Philippines Society: “Marcos failed his degree’s preliminary examinations at the first attempt. Passing the preliminary examinations is a prerequisite for continuing one’s studies and completing a degree at Oxford University.”

The issue first arose in 2015 when it was noticed that his profile on the Philippines Senate website displayed the claim that he obtained a PPE degree. 

This is not the only degree course he never finished. He enrolled at the Wharton School of Business, part of the University of Pennsylvania, for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, but dropped out in 1980 prior to his election as Vice Governor of the Ilocos Norte province. He also claimed on his Senate profile to have completed his MBA at Wharton.

‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is the son of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., a former President of the Philippines from 1965-1986, who ruled under martial law from 1972-1981. His dictatorship was notorious for brutality and corruption, and a revolution in 1986 forced him and his family into exile in Hawaii.

Marcos Jr. began his political rise at the age of 23 while his father was still in charge, but since the return from exile he has continued this career, being elected as a Representative, Governor and most recently as a Senator. 

In 1995 he was convicted for tax evasion, and in 1997 received a prison sentence of three years. He was further involved in controversy during his failed 2016 Vice-Presidential campaign, after which he publicly challenged the results, despite a 2018 recount showing his opponent’s lead actually increasing.

His election campaign this year to succeed Rodrigo Duterte, whose presidency saw a strict and bloody campaign against illegal drugs and potential human rights abuses, is backed by the ‘Partido Federal ng Pilipinas’, which supports Duterte. Other candidates include social democrat Ronald dela Rosa, current Vice President Leni Robredo and former boxer Manny Pacquiao. Sara Duterte, the daughter of the President and current mayor of Davao City, is running for Vice President. Her campaign is allied with Marco’s presidential campaign.

This article was corrected on November 18th at 14:45 to update the current state of the Presidential Race.

Update at November 19th, 1:16AM: spelling corrections.

Image Credit: Alvin678/CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr

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