VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imee Marcos NOT a graduate nor ‘cum laude’ of UP College of Law


A post on Facebook (FB) falsely claimed Sen. Imee Marcos graduated with latin honors at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law. 

On July 19, a Facebook (FB) page erroneously claimed Marcos graduated cum laude from the UP College of Law batch 1983. Included in the post were several photos of Marcos wearing a graduation gown, supposedly marching to receive her diploma during a commencement ceremony that year.

In 2019, in response to media queries on the same claim, then UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa said records from the UP Diliman (UPD) Registrar’s office indicated that Marcos only took courses at the university but did not finish a degree.

“There is no record of her graduation from UPD nor any honors or academic distinctions received with the University Registrar’s office,” Herbosa said.

He added that the registrar’s records show Marcos took non-degree courses from UPD’s College of Arts and Sciences during the academic year 1966-1967, and took courses from the Bachelors of Law program from first semester 1979 to second semester 1983.

Now archived on the FB page Did A Marcos Lie Today? managed by the UP Third World Studies Center, UP’s student publication The Philippine Collegian reported in a June 21, 1983 article that Marcos was not an official graduate of the UP College of Law.

Its report read: 

“As of the May 20 UP College of Law faculty meeting, Mrs. Marcos-Manotoc did not have a certificate of eligibility. The certificate, which is needed for entrance into the College of Law, is issued by the University Registrar after evaluation of a student’s transcript of records.”

Froilan Bacungan, then dean of the UP College of Law, also told the Philippine Collegian that the ceremony attended by Marcos in May 1983 was only a “recognition ceremony” for students who passed all subjects under their curriculum. It does not mean, however, that those students qualified for graduation.

A few years later, Bacungan revealed in an account published in the 1986 book titled “The Turning Point: Twenty-six accounts of February events in the Philippines,” that the rite Marcos went to “[bordered] in … a little bit of misrepresentation” and was a “little bit (of a) PR” stunt since she failed to submit any certificate proving she had a bachelor’s degree, a prerequisite for entry into the law program.

Before Marcos entered UP Law, she enrolled at Princeton University in 1973. She was a student in the 1970s with an independent concentration on religion and politics, Princeton’s deputy spokesperson told The Daily Princetonian, the student paper, in 2019.

However, university records showed that Marcos was not awarded a degree, the deputy spokesperson said.

VERA Files Fact Check reached out to the UP College of Law to inquire about the claim on Marcos’ “cum laude” honor but was told in an email response on July 21 that it “cannot disclose any information” on the matter due to the Data Privacy Act.

VERA Files Fact Check also reached out to UP’s Office of the University Registrar but has yet to receive a response as of publishing.

The false claim emerged two days after Marcos and several cast members of the film Maid In Malacañang held a press conference to promote the controversial movie, which allegedly details the last 72 hours of the Marcoses in the country before fleeing to Hawaii amid the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

FB page Live Awake (created on Jan. 6) published the erroneous post which has garnered more than 4,900 reactions, 700 comments and 2,700 shares.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)