(Bloomberg) -- Oxford University has waded into a row waged on social media over the education credentials of Philippines presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., with an official saying that he was awarded a “special diploma” in 1978. 

It was not a “full graduate diploma,” Cathy King, private secretary to the registrar at Oxford University, said in an email cited by Rappler news website. King was responding to Filipino artist Ruston Banal who inquired about Marcos’ stint at Oxford and later shared the contents of the email with Rappler.

Bloomberg News is independently verifying the details with the university’s alumni office. A media relations officer with Marcos’ campaign didn’t have an immediate response to the report.  Marcos’ chief of staff previously said the campaign stands by the certification issued by Oxford and challenged naysayers to check with the university.   

Battles on social media have intensified over the educational background of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s son, who is among the frontrunners in the May 2022 elections. The issue over Marcos’ education first emerged six years ago when his profile on a Senate website showed he obtained an Oxford degree in philosophy, politics and economics. 

Critics said he lied as the special diploma was short of a degree. His supporters, meanwhile, insist Marcos’s opponents are using the issue to derail his campaign, much like when he ran for the vice presidency in 2016 and lost by a margin of 260,000 votes to Leni Robredo, who is also now running for president. Having a degree is not mandatory for a presidential candidate. 

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