What sort of person forgets whether she graduated from college or not (one of those bona fide landmark events in life, ask anyone) — and then mightily push the fiction that she did?
We should ask Imee Marcos.
The senatorial candidate and daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos has spent the last weeks dodging questions and/or giving the most fantastically weird answers to questions about her academic qualifications.
This after her campaign website uploaded an official biography that claims she “is one of the first female graduates from an Ivy League School — Princeton University, graduating with honors.”
But she did not — graduate from Princeton, that is, much less with honors. Princeton deputy university spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss himself confirmed they have no record showing “that Ms Marcos was awarded a degree.”
One may very well see this as a family trait. The father, after all, had claimed to have earned a trunkful of medals for extraordinary valor in World War II. Fake, every one of them, according to a US government study.
Then it was the Marcos son and namesake, Imee’s brother and losing vice presidential contender in the 2016 elections, who said he had earned a degree from Oxford University. Fake, too — his “special diploma” was actually for a two-year masteral coursework, and not for a completed degree.
And now here’s Imee, bizarrely insisting on name-dropping an institution that has unambiguously disavowed her claims.
“As far as I know, I graduated from Princeton,” she said; the original Filipino statement sounds even more daft: “Pumasok ako sa Princeton at sa pagkakaalam ko, nag-graduate ako.” (I entered Princeton and, as far as I know, I graduated.)
What kind of mental process does that — construct an entirely make-believe scenario about one of those defining moments in a young person’s life, and then cling to that cockamamie yarn, wholly unembarrassed, in the face of facts?
When Imee says “sa pagkakaalam ko,” does she mean she remembers having participated in some solemn Princeton graduation rite, dressed in toga, surrounded by school dignitaries and beaming batchmates? (Perhaps even her mother Imelda — would Imelda pass up the chance to sashay in Princeton?) Where are the pictures?
About her so-called UP law degree, on the other hand, she did provide pictures: Imee in graduation robes, her cum laude medal being pinned on her by no less than the First Couple, in a ceremony in Meralco Theater. Unfortunately, this, too, was a sham — her purported graduation from the UP College of Law in 1983 was a special production cooked up by her parents.
Imee’s picture appears nowhere in the 1983 Philippinensian, the University of the Philippines yearbook. And UP executive vice president Dr. Teodoro Herbosa said the UP registrar has no record of Imee graduating from UP, only of her taking nondegree courses from 1976 to 1977.
As to why she was admitted to the College of Law despite not having presented an undergraduate diploma, UP College of Law dean Froilan Bacungan admitted: “It was a little bit [of] PR that, strictly speaking, we should not have participated in.”
But just how important is a college degree to crafting laws anyway? Isn’t that why lawmakers have a budget for research staff, to help with the spade work that fleshes out proposed legislation?
Doubts cast on the Marcoses’ school records, however, point to a bigger issue than just scholastic standing. Fudging grades, degrees and diplomas should be seen as troubling character flaws in a candidate, not least of them indolence, a sense of entitlement and a lack of integrity.
Why did the Marcos children, for instance — so privileged they could afford to be sent to such prestigious universities abroad — fritter away their chance to shine, or, for heaven’s sake, even the bare minimum of finishing their studies?
Revising one’s academic records to spruce up one’s image speaks of the bigger issue of integrity and transparency in public service.
That these two Marcos scions can so blithely fake their college records explains why they can also lie through their teeth about so many other things — from the unreturned ill-gotten wealth of their family to the unacknowledged abuses of the martial law period their power-drunk parents had inflicted on the country.
Living a fact-free life bleeds into public service; look at how Imee refused to face a congressional inquiry on the allegedly anomalous use of tobacco funds during her gubernatorial tenure — corruption suffered by her own Ilocano constituency.
“As far as I know, I graduated…”?
As far as the rest of us know, however, no matter how desperately or weirdly or battily one spins it, a lie is a lie is a lie.
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