DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declined to receive the honorary law degree being offered to him by the University of the Philippines Board of Regents.
“With due respect to the University of the Philippines, I do not accept even when I was mayor. Hindi ako tumatanggap, as a matter of personal and official policy, I do not accept awards. Wala sa pagkatao ko,” the President said who is in Bohol province attending a command conference.
The President issued a statement in response to the public criticism following the UP’s BOR announcement of its plan to confer such honorary degree to Duterte.
The UP BOR’s proposal, however, drew flak from UP alumni and youth groups. For instance, the chairperson of the University of the Philippines- Diliman’s University Student Council Benjie Aquino said that “President Rodrigo Duterte is a self-confessed murderer. He is unworthy of any distinction from the University of the Philippines.”
The student leader also said “President Duterte is guilty of treating women as objects, disregarding people’s fundamental human rights, and condoning unspeakable acts of violence against Filipinos. He is not worthy of being honored by the University.”
Aquino’s statement came as the U.P Board of Regents, the highest policy-making body of the university, issued a resolution on April 6, offering the honorary doctorate degree to Duterte as part of the university’s “tradition.”
Based on the said resolution, the motion to confer was initiated by Senator Regent Francis Escudero which was seconded by Regents Frederick Farolan and Angelo Jimenez, who were appointees of the President to the BOR.
U.P’s Office of the Student Regent also slammed the proposal because of the various issues faced by the Duterte administration, specifically the President’s war on illegal drugs.
“Honors are not deserved by a president whose regime killed thousands of citizens and leaders of progressive groups under Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapayapaan. Honors must not be given to a president that declares all-out war against his people to quell their struggle for just and lasting peace, and reimposes death penalty to legitimize the killing of the poor,” Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.
“Moreover, it is ironic that a university, which has then and now fought against state fascism, will now recognize a president that allowed the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani — much against the will of the Filipino people,” he added.
But Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Wednesday’s televised press briefing said that Duterte was not after of the honorary degree on doctor of laws being offered by the UP BOR.
“It’s not something that he runs after,” Abella said. “Although he does not run after awards, it would be a sign of goodwill towards the highest—one of the three premiere institutions. It would be quite an honor to receive that. But it’s not something he is angling for. Of course, a sign of mutual respect would be in place here.”
Presidential son and Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte pointed out that in the past, the President has shunned on receiving awards and recognitions.
He said the President “does not give a heck with any ‘honorary degree’ simply because he knows he did not work hard for such a degree.”
“To the so-called learned individuals who frown upon the plan of the University of the Philippines to grant an honorary doctorate degree to the President, you can have that honorary degree for all we care. Our family though thank the UP Board of Regents for even considering our father. Pero ok na akong papa [But he is okay] as being the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said. (davaotoday.com)