VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Census data refutes Panelo claim that ‘overwhelming majority’ of Pinoys are unschooled

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s claim that an “overwhelming majority” of Filipinos lack education is false, debunked by no less than the 2015 Census of Population.


Panelo in a Senate hearing Jan. 17 said Filipinos might not be ready for a plebiscite on charter change because an “overwhelming majority” of them are not educated:

“Majority po o overwhelming majority ng ating mga kababayan ay hindi edukado. Walang edukasyon (Majority or an overwhelming majority of Filipinos are not educated. Without education).”

Source: Senate hearing on charter change, Jan. 17, 2018, ABS-CBN News live video, watch from 1:05:20-1:05:25

This is why many are easily swayed, bought or intimidated during elections, Panelo added:

“That is the reason why nandito tayo sa ganitong kalagayan. Pagdating sa botohan, bakit ba madaling ma-impluwensyahan? Bakit madaling mabili? Bakit madaling matakot? Eh hindi kasi karamihan may edukasyon (This is why we’re in this state. During elections, why are people easily swayed? Easily bought? Easily intimidated? Because not a lot are educated).”

Source: Senate hearing on charter change, Jan. 17, 2018, ABS-CBN News live video, watch from 1:05:25-1:06:04


Only 3.28 percent of the total 90 million Filipinos aged 5 and above, or close to 3 million individuals, did not finish any grade level, results of the 2015 census show.

The overwhelming majority have varying degrees of educational attainment: 2.5 million pre-school; 46,000 special education; 30.2 million some to complete elementary; 32.9 million some to complete high school; and 21.5 million some post-secondary to postgraduate education.

The educational status of some 128,000 individuals was “not stated.”

The number of Filipinos who did not finish any grade level dropped from 3.3 million in the 2010 census, then comprising 4 percent of the total 81.9 million aged 5 and above.

Censuses are “a complete enumeration of households in the country” designed to “take an inventory of the population of the entire Philippines,” said the Philippine Statistics Authority, the lead agency conducting them.


Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015 Census of Population, Total Population 5 Years Old and Over by Highest Grade/Year Completed, Sex, Age, and Region

PSA, What is the 2015 Census of Population?

PSA, The Educational Attainment of the Household Population (Results from the 2010 Census)

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)

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