Is Pacquiao’s ‘college degree’ fake?

  • Reading time:9 mins read

YES, it’s a bogus degree, at least based on the information so far available, unless Sen. Manuel Pacquiao and the University of Makati (UMak) that issued his degree explain otherwise.

In December 2019, Pacquiao was awarded by the UMak a bachelor of science degree in political science, after a year’s study (not three months) at that institution. UMak’s president at the time was Abigail Binay, also Makati’s mayor, after its longtime president Tomas Lopez passed away in February 2019.

UMak, however, is not authorized to issue the kind of bachelor’s degree that was given to the senator.

Under existing laws on education, the only way to skirt the four-year course (four years, because it humanly takes that long to complete the 120 to 130 college units required) for a bachelor’s degree is through the so-called Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP).

The boxing champion with his questionable degree.
The boxing champion with his questionable degree.

Authorized by President Ramos through Executive Order 330 in 1996, the ETEEAP allows working professionals who were not able to finish college education to earn a bachelor’s degree without going through the traditional four-year course.

Under this program, professionals with five or more years of working experience can use the knowledge, experiences and achievements obtained through their jobs to earn the units required for the college degree related to their particular field of work.


Because of its obvious potential for abuse, given the proliferation of “diploma mills” in the past, the ETEEAP is strictly supervised by the Commission on Higher Education with the EO requiring a technical secretariat “of highly competent individuals with recognized expertise in alternative learning systems and educational assessment.”

One of the most important features of the ETEEAP is that not just any university can issue degrees through the program. The CHEd has to authorize a university for doing so, after a strict application process by the institution. Not only does it authorize a university to issue degrees, but also for specific degrees. There are at present 96 such accredited universities, with 12 in the National Capital Region.

The UMak that purportedly issued Pacquiao’s Bachelor of Science in Political Science is not accredited by the CHEd to undertake the ETEEAP, and therefore has no authority to give Pacquiao a college degree.

There is only one university in the NCR authorized to issue a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science under the ETEEAP, and that is Polytechnic University of the Philippines; another university, New Era University, is authorized to confer a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

However, UMak vice president for academic affairs Elxyzur Ramos in 2019 told a newspaper when the university issued the degree to Pacquiao “the senator did not get his degree through the ETEEAP.” “Rather, he was enrolled under UMak’s own equivalency program for professionals patterned after ETEEAP in partnership with the Philippine Councilors League-Legislative Academy.”

But a GMA News article in 2019 quoted Pacquiao as saying “he was thankful for the ETEEAP of the Philippine Councilors League-Legislative Academy (PCCLA) which gives [a] chance to qualified Filipinos to attain college degree/diploma – Filipinos who wish to complete college through informal education.”


But under our laws, only the CHEd can authorize a university to undertake any such “equivalency program” of any kind, and it has not authorized UMak to do so.

It is almost hilarious the UMak vice president and Pacquiao invoke the legitimacy of its equivalency program by claiming it was in collaboration with the “Philippine Councilors League-Legislative Academy.” That league is simply the social association of municipal and city councilors in the country, now so wracked in infighting it doesn’t have a chairman or president at present. No matter its name, there is no registered, functioning academic institution called the “Philippine Councilors League-Legislative Academy.”

Under our existing laws, there are strict requirements for universities to issue bachelors’ degrees, such as completion of the 120-130 college units of study, which has a required sequence of completion, since over half of these are “general education courses” necessary for the other subjects focusing on political science. For example, an advanced course like “POLSC 131” cannot be undertaken without first passing POLSC 101.


UMak vice president Ramos claimed “to earn his degree, Pacquiao had to complete 10 modules for the different clusters of subjects.” He said while “it usually took a month for a student to finish each module, the senator completed all 10 modules in 16 months.”

If it was legitimate, was such a program consisting of modules also offered to other students?

Whatever that “module” innovation was, the CHEd has not authorized UMak to undertake such an equivalency program. Philippine college education, as in most countries, is still based on the college-units framework.

If CHEd allowed such “equivalency programs” as UMak claims, one can just imagine the stampede for colleges in the country offering programs which would allow students to finish a “college degree” in just one year, rather than four years. I cannot fathom why this UMak “vice president or academic affairs” seems to be totally ignorant of our education laws.

Contrast Pacquiao’s questionable “college degree” to the chemical engineering degree given to the business tycoon Lucio Tan in 2008. First, it was issued by the University of Santo Tomas, which is accredited by CHEd to undertake the ETEEAP, and specifically for chemical engineering. Secondly, there was a panel that interrogated him and approved his application, consisting of officers of the Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers, the head, former head and professors of UST’s chemical engineering department.

Was there such a UMak panel in the case of Pacquiao? If there was, it hasn’t been reported all, much less its composition. If there was such a panel, was it former Vice President Jejomar Binay who headed it, I wonder.


For Pacquiao to boast of his “college degree” and for UMak for issuing it is such a despicable insult to our educational system.

Pacquiao should resign immediately as senator if he cannot prove his degree is authentic, especially since as a legislator he had made an oath to defend the Constitution and follow the laws of the land. If it cannot prove it didn’t violate laws on issuing college degrees, the UMak, whose president is Makati Mayor Abigail Binay, should be closed by CHEd, and its vice president for academic affairs who claimed Pacquiao got a degree through ETEEAP fired.

There are some 3.4 million students, many of them poor, in our universities slogging away to complete a college degree in four years. Pacquiao got to get his questionable degree in one year. He should be ashamed of himself.

I put the headline of this article in the interrogative mood, not because I have doubts on my conclusions but only because I still have to get a response from Pacquiao on this matter, my query sent last Tuesday acknowledged to have been received by his office. I am also waiting for a reply on a freedom of information request I have filed asking the CHEd to explain how UMak got to give Pacquiao a college degree.


Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

Twitter: @bobitiglao


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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Jo

    Kung No. 1 sa absences sa senado, kung sinasayang pera ng taongbayan sa mga absences na iyan, kung senator ngunit nasa ring at nakikipag boksing upang kumita ng kitang makasarili, kung ibonoto siya upang maglingkod bilang senator ngunit nasa ibang bansa at nakikipag boksing, kung palipat-lipat ng partido, kung ang diploma ay inareglo, kung nagdadakdak na kinakalaban daw niya ang corruption ngunit malaki pala ang utang sa gobyerno dahil hindi nagbabayad ng tax– then siya mismo ang corrupt. Never trust a guy na gustong pakyawin lahat sa mundo komo yumaman lang siya sa boksing.

  2. Joy

    Thank you for writing this article sir and I look forward for the response of Sen Manny Pacquiao and CHED. I pray for truth, fairness, and ultimately justice especially those who struggled just to finish a 4 year course like me. This is not about hate or envy, but a demand for honesty and decency especially from a public servant and for the educational institution to be held accountable if proven guilty of such irregularity/illegality.

  3. Romy Base

    It’s either Manny serves GOD or man but cannot serve both GOD and mammon.

  4. Belen Trost

    Thank you so much Mr Tiglao, for you investigative reporting of the questionable PolSci degree of Manny Pacquiao.
    He definitely lied about how he finished his degree yet he claimed that’s one thing he’s not, a liar and corrupt.

  5. Ana

    Why the education of Manny Pacquiao is now being the center of the issue? is it his mistake if he has given a position in govt? it’s peoples choice remember. If ever it is not legit is it Manny Pacquiao mistake again? of course before he has taken the course from university of makati he do a lot of inquiry about the school for sure. The point is he tried his best to finished his studies with the help of University of Makati. Why he need to step down just because he didn’t graduated from the prestigious school? you have to discriminate his credibility through education wow that’s why our country is not improving because of the bad attitude we are having in the society. His education is not the main topic now a days it is about the corruption which is going on in our country. If you think he is not qualified being a senator be it because people put him to be part of the senate. The important he is not corrupt. Thank you

    1. Jojo Cleofe

      How could you investigate the corrupt practices if you also are a corrupt one? We are seeking for fair judgment, Senator Manny Pacquaio must be investigated also. How could we say that he is clean? #justsaying


    I say, it’s not fake. Senator Manny Pacquiao is a God fearing man, he may not be intelligent or educated like other politicians but he is clean and a straight forward person especially with his faith and dedication to serve our country.
    Senator Manny is being tested like David, my prayer is for him to stand firm, and let God do the battle for him.
    Dutertards or Yellow Army man yan, pag lumuhod si Senator Manny sa Diyos, tapos lahat ang mga yan! God is in the process of restoring our beloved Philippines and it is normal for the evil ones to keep it from happening.

  7. Dorina Rojas

    Senator Pacquiao’s achievements as a senator and outstanding public servant certainly merit an honorary degree equivalent to a Masters Degree or PhD and I think many will agree to that. But conferment of a degree for successful enrollees in academic courses such as the one given to Sen. Pacman is different. The CHED and our academic institutions have rules to follow and should exempt no one in ensuring strict compliance. Senator Pacquiao deserves all the recognition and awards due him, academic or not. It will be most honorable for him to reject one that he does not deserve or at least, he should make sure that laws are followed because it is the right thing to do and fair for everyone who struggles to educate themselves.

  8. Cirilo

    You are one of the few journalists I trust in this world like Carlson Tucker, Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, And Mark Levin. Thanks for the info, Sir…

  9. mcDo

    ang una ko lang nakita sa talino ni Pacquiao ay WIT… naganap iyan sa isang Show ni Gisselle Sanchez kung saan, blondy pa ang buhok nya. sometime 1990s.

    a mere boxer then, but he got some intelligence speaking with Gisselle. nakaka-sabay sya with Gisselle’s antics.

    maybe, it should have gone better with his mother and wife on his side.

    umikot ang mundo… and then, might in the Religious-sphere got to him, might of his money over standards… and his desire to win the presidency is maybe the end of this.

    balik na lang sya kay Mommy Dionisia… that’s his best armas at lugar, while she is still there.

    gaganda ang kanyang buhay.

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