Posts misleadingly claim Philippine President Marcos Jr 'closed down' national university

·3 min read

A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts that claim the state-run University of the Philippines was "closed down" following an order by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The claim, however, is misleading. The university's vice president of public affairs told AFP that no such order had been issued as of July 27, and the university was still operating. A Manila-based legal expert told AFP that the president does not have the authority to close the university.

The video was shared here on YouTube on July 5, 2022. It has been viewed more than 78,000 times.

The YouTube video's title reads in part: "JUST IN: FINALLY! IT'S BEEN CLOSED DOWN! Pres. BBM surprised U.P!".

The Tagalog-language text superimposed on the video's thumbnail translates to English as: "CRY! IT'S BEEN SIGNED. SHOCKING! THIS IS THE NEWS THAT SHOOK UP DILIMAN".

The thumbnail features images of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Vice President Sara Duterte, former vice president Leni Robredo and former senator Francis Pangilinan, who was Robredo's running mate during the 2022 elections.

It also shows a cropped photo of a man signing a document.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on July 25, 2022.

"BBM" is a nickname for Marcos Jr, while "UP Diliman" refers to the main campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Speaking in a mix of Tagalog and English, the video's narrator discusses protests by university students in the Philippines -- including students from UP -- against Marcos Jr's presidency.

The video makes no mention of Marcos Jr ordering UP's closure.

Comments on the post suggest some people were misled by the video.

"It's just right that UP was closed down, their students are only causing chaos," one user wrote.

"That's good, but I'm worried about what will happen to those students who didn't participate in rallies," another wrote.

The video was also shared alongside the same claim in Facebook posts here and here and on YouTube here and here.

However, the claim is misleading.

University still operating

Dr Elena Pernia, the university's vice president for public affairs, said it had not been closed down.

"The UP has not received any signed order closing the university," Pernia told AFP.

"The UP is mandated to perform its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and development. Any change in the university status must be made by law," she added.

The UP was established as a national university on June 18, 1908, through Act. No. 1870 of the Philippine Legislature.

The president does not have the authority to close the university, according to Manila-based lawyer Tony La Vina.

"The president cannot shut down UP because it was created by an Act of Congress," he said. "Only Congress can repeal its charter."

Keyword searches on the database of the Philippine Congress found no bills during the 18th Congress that sought to close the university.

The country's 19th Congress only opened its first regular session on July 25.

La Vina said a law that would allow the president to close down UP would likely be "unconstitutional".

Misrepresented photo

The image seen in the misleading video's thumbnail of a man signing a document corresponds to the one-hour 48-minute and 56-second mark of a live stream of Marcos Jr's inauguration.

It was published on YouTube on June 30, 2022, by the Philippines' Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM).

The RTVM's video shows Marcos Jr signing the oath of office -- not a document ordering the university to close.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading video's thumbnail (left) and the original video on YouTube (right):

Screenshot comparison

As of July 27, there have been no official reports that UP was closed down due to an order made by Marcos Jr.

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