Candidates lying about school records? 'That's fraud,' Panelo says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7)—  A candidate or government official lying about his or her educational record can be considered a fraud, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Thursday.

"That's fraud," the spokesman told reporters when pressed about the issue ahead of the midterm polls.

This comes amid Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's sentiment that lying should not be a huge cause of concern for the elections.

Duterte-Carpio on Wednesday said all candidates "have been telling lies"-- in response to accusations that former Special Assistant to the President and senatorial hopeful Bong Go have been using public funds for his campaign. 

Panelo, however, noted it is still up to the electorate whether or not they will vote for a certain candidate-- honest or not.

"I'm saying honesty, as an issue, depends on the voter himself or herself. If he or she will consider that. As far as Mayor Sara is concerned, hindi issue 'yun (it is not an issue)," the spokesman clarified.

Senatorial candidate and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos in February faced backlash after an independent student publication of Princeton University countered her educational records. Marcos, in previous interviews, said she had graduated from the prestigious Ivy League school.

"Imee Marcos, a current candidate for a Philippine Senate position and the daughter of former Filipino President Ferdinand E. Marcos, says she graduated from the University in 1979. Although she enrolled in the University in 1973, no record shows that she graduated," the Daily Princetonian reported. 

Panelo said "honesty" should only be considered when it comes to work-related issues.

"It goes without saying, if you are dishonest you will be removed definitely... in relation to your work. But if you're dishonest with respect to your personal relations..." he said.

"Ang kailangan sa gobyerno, matino. Basta 'yung sa trabaho mo, matino ka, wala kang gagawing masama, in violation of the law."

[Translation: What we need in the government is someone upright. If you're good with your work, you're not doing anything in violation of the law.]

He added voters should have had personal "dealings" with candidates before they can judge or consider them as honest or not.

"How would you know if the records are bogus or not? Hindi ba ang dami nang pine-present na records, 'yun pala bogus? Dapat alam mo personally 'yung kandidato, may dealings ka sa kanya. Parang mag-sespeculate ka lang," he added.

[Translation: Isn't it that they're presenting a lot of records, but they are all bogus? You should personally get to know the candidate, and you should have dealings with him or her. Otherwise you will just speculate.]

For her part, Vice President Leni Robredo said she disagrees with Duterte-Carpio's sentiment.

She said that while there's nothing wrong with failing to graduate from certain schools, candidates should be upfront and transparent with their statements.

"Kasi iyong kampanya, ito iyong paraan para makilala natin iyong mga kandidato. Iyong kampanya, ito iyong paraan para makapagdesisyon nang tama iyong taumbayan kung sino iyong kaniyang bobotohan. Kung ang premise nito kasinungalingan, parang ang dinadaya natin, taumbayan," Robredo said during an interview Thursday in Cagayan.

[Translation: Our campaign is the way for Filipinos to get to know the candidates, and to help them decide wisely. If its premise is dishonesty, it's like we're deceiving the citizenry.]