(Photo by Yummie Dingding/ The Daily Tribune)

AGRICULTURE Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. has clarified that, contrary to published news stories and documents stating that he is an alumnus of UST, he did not complete his education.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) issued a press release on Monday disclosing that Laurel left school at the age of 19 when he became a father.

“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,” Laurel said in a statement on Nov. 13. “That is not true.”

“I never finished my education because I became a father at 19. I needed to work to support my eldest child.”

The Varsitarian, along with other media outlets, reported that Laurel completed his undergraduate degree in computer science at  UST. 

The Varsitarian obtained its information from an official document submitted in 2016 to the Securities and Exchange Commission by Pure Energy Holdings Corp., where Laurel served as a director and shareholder.

The document stated that the fishing tycoon “holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Santo Tomas.”

Similarly, a short biography of Tuna Think Tank members, facilitators and organizers published by the World Wildlife Fund indicated that “Francisco Laurel holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.”

UST’s Office of the Registrar and Laurel’s chief of staff, however, have confirmed to the Varsitarian that the agriculture secretary did not attend the University. 

READ: New DA chief did not study in UST—registrar

Laurel said in the Nov. 13 press release that he wanted to continue his undergraduate studies but was hindered by work and family obligations. 

He was president of family-run Frabelle Fishing Corp. before being appointed agriculture secretary by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Laurel’s childhood friend.

“Like many, I dreamt of wearing a toga and receiving a diploma. But that wasn’t meant to be,” Laurel said.

The DA’s press release did not state where Laurel attended college before dropping out. 

The Varsitarian has reached out to Laurel’s camp to inquire about his educational background but has yet to receive a response as of writing. 


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