Contrary to SEC-stamped document, published profiles, new agri chief not a UST alumnus

Photo from Department of Agriculture’s official Facebook page.

NEWLY-APPOINTED Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. did not study at UST, his media representative said more than a week after he was designated to the post.

Last Nov. 3, The Flame and several publications reported that Laurel, who succeeded President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as agriculture chief, is a UST computer science alumnus.

A now refuted document stamped by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and released by Pure Energy Holdings Corporation, a holding firm that partnered with Laurel’s fishing conglomerate, stated that Laurel “holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Santo Tomas.”

Laurel, the president of fishing giant Frabelle Fishing Corporation, was also identified as a graduate of UST in World Wildlife Fund’s short biography of members of the Tuna Think Tank in 2010.

An article published by the University of the Philippines Visayas in 2019 also said that the fishing tycoon “graduated the degree in Computer Science from University of Santo Tomas.”

However, the agriculture chief’s media handler, Monchet Laraño, confirmed to The Flame that Laurel did not finish a bachelor’s degree at the University. No further details on Laurel’s educational background were available as of this writing.

Only Laurel’s speech during his appointment was available in the section of the agriculture department website dedicated to the secretary.

The Flame did not find media reports stating that Laurel’s camp had corrected the information that he graduated in UST.

Before his appointment, Laurel offered suggestions to the government in addressing food security issues as a member of the Private Sector Advisory Council.

The fishing tycoon was also one of Marcos’ top campaign donors. Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the political party that carried Marcos’ presidential bid last year, received P30 million from Laurel for the 2022 elections.

Marcos administered Laurel’s oath of office on Nov. 3. The President expressed confidence that Laurel would do a “very good job” in tackling the country’s agricultural problems due to his expertise in the sector. F – Mei Lin Weng and Cali Asajar

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