VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post revives FALSE claim ex-president Marcos scored 98.01% in bar exams

Three Facebook (FB) accounts carried on Jan. 19 and 20 a fabricated front page of the Philippine Collegian, the University of the Philippines (UP)’s student paper, that shows former president Ferdinand Marcos scoring 98.01% in the 1939 Philippine bar exams, a feat described as unprecedented.

This is not true. The former chief executive did not get that grade, although he was the bar topnotcher that year with a score of 92.35%, as shown in the original copy of the student paper and a news report in a national daily in 1939.

Also, Marcos does not hold the record of having the highest score in a bar examination, according to the Supreme Court (SC)’s Office of the Bar Confidant. “Based on the records of this Office, Ret. Justice Florenz D. Regalado still holds the highest score in the Philippine Bar Examinations,” it told VERA Files Fact Check in a letter on Jan. 26.

The Office of the Bar Confidant is not authorized to release personal records such as exam grades without written consent of the lawyers involved, but based on Regalado’s profile at the Senate Electoral Tribunal website, the late SC associate justice scored an average of 96.7% when he took the bar exam in 1954.

Bar topnotcher with 92.35%

Miguel Paolo Reyes, part of the Marcos Regime Research team at the UP Third World Studies Center, provided VERA Files with a photograph of the actual Dec. 5, 1939 front page of The Philippine Collegian, as displayed in the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

The student paper said Marcos was that year’s bar topnotcher with a grade of 92.35%.

“Again the College of Law of the State University topped the Bar examinations held last August, Ferdinand Marcos, U.P. obtained the first place with 92.35%, trailed by Ramon C. Fernandez also of U.P. and class valedictorian, in a close second with 90.25%," it read.

The now-defunct The Philippines Herald also reported then that Marcos scored 92.35%, as shown in an image of the paper featured in the Marcos museum, also sent by Reyes to VERA Files.

The revived fake front page of the Collegian copied the masthead of the original but changed the rest of its contents to bear out a graduation photo of Marcos and the rundown of his supposed scores in each test subject.

A closer inspection of the images that circulated this January also bears out the wrong date. It shows that the paper was published on “Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1939.” However, this day was a Saturday.

The same piece of disinformation has circulated in the past, shared by pro-Marcos supporters. One version, which additionally claimed Marcos got the “highest score ever” in the bar exams, was debunked by Agence France-Presse in 2019.

The erroneous post that spread in January was first seen on FB page Atty. Larry Gadon Supporters for 2022, which got 3,300 reactions, 147 comments, and 1,200 shares.

It was re-uploaded by FB pages President Bongbong Marcos 2022 and SOLID Duterte, which accumulated around 6,800 reactions, 475 comments, and 1,800 shares.

Top traffic generators are all pro-Marcos accounts: FB page BBM Youth Advocate ツ and FB groups MARCOS PA RIN and MARCOS LOYALIST.

Atty. Larry Gadon Supporters for 2022 was created in December 2020, President Bongbong Marcos 2022 in May 2020, and SOLID Duterte in April 2020.

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

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