MANILA - Administration-backed senatorial candidate Imee Marcos' supposed graduation ceremony at the University of the Philippines (UP) was a "bit of misrepresentation" and "PR" (public relations) stunt, according to an account of a late former UP law dean.
A blog post by journalist Raissa Robles cited former UP law dean Froilan Bacungan's account published in the 1986 book "The Turning Point: Twenty-six accounts of February events in the Philippines" by German journalist Marilies von Brevern.
Excerpts of the book seem to shed light on Marcos' supposed graduation rites held in 1983, a photo of which Marcos had posted on her Facebook account on Feb. 20 to claim that she had finished law at the premier state university with honors.
UP has said Marcos did not graduate but only took non-degree courses at the UP College of Arts and Sciences during academic year 1976-1977, and at the UP College of Law during the first and second semesters in 1979.
"There was indeed some kind of a ceremony held which looked as if she graduated. I was there. It was a little bit PR that, strictly speaking, we should not have participated in," he said in the book.
"It borders in fact on a little bit of misrepresentation. No less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court graced the occasion," he said.
Bacungan said he allowed Marcos to enter the College of Law despite her lack of qualifications. Marcos' father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was a UP law alumnus.
He said he admitted Marcos after she promised that she would eventually submit her bachelor's degree diploma that she said was not yet available at the time of her enrollment.
Marcos had claimed to have earned her undergraduate degree at the prestigious Princeton University in the United States, but the Ivy League school has also denied this.
"I allowed her to enter the College of Law in spite of the fact that she couldn't present a certificate proving that she had a bachelor's degree which was the basic requirement," Bacungan said in the book.
He said Marcos was a "bright and conscientious student" who "would have passed Magna Cum Laude if we just depended on her grades at the College of Law."
Still, she lacked the prerequisites to complete the program.
"Imee had sounded very confident that she would submit the certificate. Maybe she was not telling the truth --- how can I know?" he said.
"Four years afterwards, when she could be considered for graduation, we discovered that she never submitted her [undergraduate] diploma," he said.
"She was not given a bachelor of law degree and that meant she could not take the bar examination," he added.
In previous interviews, Marcos had evaded answering clarifications about her educational background.
"As far as I know, grumaduate ako (I graduated)," she said.