AGRICULTURE SECRETARY Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. has denied graduating from the University of Santo Tomas and has admitted not finishing his studies, following reports refuting official documents and profiles that identified him as a Thomasian alumnus.
In a statement released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday, Nov. 13, Laurel said news reports claiming that he is a UST alumnus are “not true.” He revealed that he quit school to raise his eldest child.
“Let me clear the air about my educational background given news reports that claim I am an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas, or any other institution of higher learning. That is not true,” Laurel said.
“I never finished my education because I became a father at 19. I needed to work to support my eldest child,” he added.
Last Nov. 3, The Flame and several publications reported that the newly-appointed DA chief is a UST alumnus. In an updated article of The Flame published on Nov. 12, his media representative, Monchet Laraño, confirmed that Laurel did not study at the University.
Several official documents, including one stamped by the Securities and Exchange Commission and released by Pure Energy Holdings Corporation, stated that the DA secretary “holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Santo Tomas.”
A short biography uploaded by the World Wildlife Fund on members of the 2010 Tuna Think Tank also mentioned that Laurel is a UST alumnus.
In the same statement, Laurel said he focused on building his family’s fishing business Frabelle Fishing Corporation, one of the world’s largest tuna fishing companies.
“Like many, I dreamt of wearing a toga and receiving a diploma. But that wasn’t meant to be,” Laurel, who served as president of Frabelle, said.
Laurel took his oath of office as DA secretary before President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Nov. 3
Laurel, who was described by the President as his childhood friend, was one of Marcos’ top campaign donors. He donated P30 million to the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Marcos’ party during last year’s polls. F