People's money used for Bongbong's education in Oxford, Wharton

The evidence presently unraveling on Bongbong Marcos’ educational attainment has brought out another distressing angle: It was poor Juan de la Cruz who subsidized it.

Government resources were used to facilitate the education of the Marcos children. Houses were bought to lodge them in luxury. Imee’s for her studies in Princeton University (where she also did not attain any degree) was a 15-room mansion.

The father dictator himself, in an interview he gave in October 1986 aired on the GMA television network did not deny these. In fact and in truth, the properties were returned to the government as part of ill-gotten wealth. The Chicago Tribune recorded the Marcos admissions: “Marcos said he owned homes in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a home in Lawrence, New Jersey.” The Lawrence mansion was valued at US$1 million and was returned to the Philippine government in September 1986 “after a judge ruled there was evidence to show it was obtained with money stolen from the national treasury.”

Let us simply go by the naked evidence. Is it not that we must hold public money to public scrutiny and accountability? “Kung walang ninakaw, bakit may binalik?” is not just for memes.

The cablegrams of the Philippine diplomats in London show us clear-cut and unequivocal proof: Government personnel were used to monitor Bongbong’s schooling and report the same to Malacañang. A sidelight of irony to show how offices of dignified formal accreditation were mangled by Ferdinand Marcos to serve his family’s interests: The London diplomatic post is euphemistically known as the Court of St. James, for the royal court at St. James’ Palace that receives all diplomats posted to the United Kingdom. But as we have seen in the evidence, our ambassadors (including – can you believe this -- Jaime Zobel de Ayala) were reduced as message relay couriers on the failing grades of the Marcos children.

In May 1979, Deputy Chief of Mission to London Jose A. Syjuco Jr. sent a telex to Malacañang to inform Bongbong that he must “rush Wharton forms to the Philippine Consul General in New York Ernesto C. Pineda soonest,” so Pineda can make a “strong attempt to push it through.” A school applicant’s papers became part of the work of a diplomat. There is nothing clearer than that – that it was indeed a family conjugal dictatorship.

In November 1980, Marcos had asked the US government to give Bongbong “additional protection because of purported threats to his life.” The dictator’s children were escorted to school by security personnel who were provided their own residence bought at Philippine government expense. Bongbong was also appointed as “military attaché” in the Philippine mission to the United Nations in 1979 to give him “diplomatic immunity.” It was the height of arrogance. Is that what we want?

The father dictator himself lied about his son’s educational attainment. “He is graduating this June,” he said in a speech before the Philippine College of Commerce on April 1, 1978. If you think the son had merely lied to his father for his pathetic performance at Oxford, don’t. Marcos knew as early as 1976, from Ambassador Pablo A. Araque’s cablegram, that Bongbong failed in two of his three subjects.

There are extremely disturbing lessons here to be learned. We do not care if Bongbong Marcos attained a college degree or not. We do not care if he never got to finish a postgraduate Wharton degree. The “masa” thinks so,“ and they are correct. For all we know, he could have attained those degrees elsewhere, perhaps in many a diploma mill in the Philippines. The heck do we care. Even scalawags can go earn a Doctorate in Philosophy. Education, it has been said and rightly so, does not define a person. But lies do.

If we lie to the Filipino people, we manipulate their thinking. At the very least, that is a case of mental abuse. But it is also a case of out-and-out cheating.

The same maxim is repeated over and over because there is abuse: Public office is a public trust. It was reported early this week that an employee of the Bureau of Customs assigned at the Port of Davao city is currently facing criminal charges for the falsification of his academic records. Carlos Joey See Reyes had submitted fake school records and a diploma indicating he had an undergraduate degree in business administration. The university certified he was never enrolled. The National Bureau of Investigation filed charges of perjury and falsification of private and public documents against See Reyes before the Department of Justice.

Bongbong Marcos’ perjury is now being brought before the bar of the electorate. Should we lower our standards when it is the high and the mighty who lie?


The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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