Mayor Rodrigo Duterte boldly announced to the world that Mar never graduated from Wharton:
You claim to have graduated from Wharton School of Economics. That is a myth. You did not graduate [from] Wharton, Mr. Roxas. Wala doon sa listahan na ikaw naka-kumpleto ng 4 years or 5 years for a degree. Tanungin mo ang Wharton. Maybe um-enrol ka ng 3 months course, correspondence. I would believe that. [Rappler]
According to Rappler, Duterte then challenged Roxas to show a photo of him wearing a toga with his mother as “proof” that he graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After Mar refuted him, Mayor Duterte then clarified that:
A Wharton graduate is a person who finishes his masters degree at Wharton, meaning you are a graduate of MBA at Wharton. In your case, Mar, you are not, so don’t claim to be a man you cannot be…because you are not. UPenn graduate ka (You are a UPenn graduate), and not Wharton!
So first Mayor Duterte said that Mar only graduated from 3-month course. And now he goes on to state that it’s a four-year course but not in Wharton but in the University of Pennsylvania. One supporter of Duterte went so far as to write that:
No self-respecting presidential candidate will consider 4 years in high school [at Ateneo de Manila University] and 3 years in [Wharton] college a ‘background in economics’.
In Mar’s Official Website, it’s stated that:
Official records were presented by the University of Pennsylvania to highlight the fact that:
He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1979.
The official name of the school is “University of Pennsylvania” and the school division: “Wharton Undergraduate”
The suggestion that a Wharton undergraduate degree is “unimpressive and insufficient to claim ‘a background in economics'” is likewise bereft of merit.
According to one writer: “Apparently, the writer [of the comment that this feat is unimpressive] has little idea about the quality of students and education at Wharton. Undergrads at Wharton are sought after by many firms. They are recruited even while they are still studying and offered exceptionally high salaries.”
According to another account from Rebecca Ricalde, a digital commerce executive who was a member of the Wharton MBA Class of 2011: “Undergrads can definitely claim to be Wharton grads. In fact, the undergrad is maybe more competitive than the MBA program.”
As aptly summarized by spot.ph:
It looks like [Mayor Duterte] is mistaken – Wharton does have undergraduate programs, and being an “undergraduate” is as good as being an alumnus.
On September 1, 2012, the Wharton magazine’s Twitter account congratulated Mar as one of the school’s alumni:
Congratulations to Manuel “Mar” Roxas, W’70, now appointed secretary of the interior and local government for the Philippines.
— Wharton Magazine (@whartonmagazine) August 31, 2012
On December 17, 2015, this was reaffirmed: “Wharton: Yes, Roxas is our ‘graduate’”, Rappler:
The words ‘graduate’ and ‘alumnus’ are synonymous, says a Wharton official, adding that an ‘undergraduate’ degree means he finished college there. x x x
And it turns out that Duterte and Filipinos online have the terms all wrong.
In an email to Rappler correspondent Raymon Dullana, Wharton said the terms “graduate” and “alumnus” are the same.
“The word ‘graduate’ and ‘alumnus’ are synonymous. Wharton offers both undergraduate and MBA degrees. Mr. Roxas received his undergraduate degree. An undergraduate degree is a pre-requisite for admission to nearly all accredited graduate schools including those that bestow an MBA,” Wharton School Media Relations Director Peter Winicov said in an email.
A copy of the Wharton School’s 2006 Alumni Directory also lists “Manuel Araneta Roxas II,” then still a senator, as an alumnus of the business school.