UP offers honorary doctorate degree to Duterte
The University of the Philippines has offered a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, degree to President Rodrigo Duterte, despite questions on his campaign against drugs.
The UP Board of Regents (BOR), the university’s highest policy making body, has offered Duterte the honorary doctor of laws degree as part of tradition, according to Chairperson Patricia Licuanan Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said
Licuanan co-chairs the Board of Regents with UP President Danilo Concepcion.
UP offers the honorary doctors degree to Philippine presidents usually on their first year in office. Former President Benigno Aquino III was also conferred the degree when he was commencement speaker at the 2011 UP Diliman graduation.
“In keeping with tradition, UP is conferring an honorary doctorate on the President. President Duterte has yet to accept,” Licuanan said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Student regent Raoul Manuel also told Inquirer that the BOR was mulling on the move to confer the honorary degree to the President. But nothing was final yet.
“It is still a plan but not yet final,” Manuel said, although he noted that the honorary degree is traditionally conferred to the country’s president.
“Yes, it is part of tradition according to the UP administration,” Manuel said.
Asked about any mounting protest at the state university, known for its militant history, especially during the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, Manuel said his office would soon issue a statement on the conferment.
Former student regent Cleve Arguelles took to Facebook to express disappointment at the move to confer the honorary doctorate degree to Duterte.
In a public post, Arguelles said Duterte should be conferred instead with a doctorate on “crimes against humanity,” due his administration’s brutal war on drugs that has left thousands of suspected drug pushers and addicts killed.
“The University of the Philippines to confer Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to Duterte. Where is honor and excellence in this? The university must not be complicit in the president’s bloody war on drugs,” Arguelles, who served as student regent in 2012, said.
“The only honorary degree that the University of the Philippines should confer to President Duterte: Doctor of Crimes Against Humanity,” he added.
Arguelles told the Inquirer that conferring Duterte the honorary degree is to tolerate the thousands of killings under the his bloody narcotics crackdown.
“I know it’s a tradition by the university. But this should be an exception. To confer the highest academic honor to a president that is implicated in thousands of killings is an insult to the very soul of UP,” Arguelles said.
“Duterte is antithetical to the values that the university has been cherishing for the past hundred years: karangalan at kagalingan (honor and excellence),” he added.
Minutes of the BOR meeting on April 6 showed that it was Sen. Francis Escudero, the Senate representative to the BOR, who moved to discuss about the conferment.
Escudero’s motion was seconded by regents Frederick Mikhail Farolan and Angelo Jimenez, both appointees of Duterte.
According to the minutes, the conferment should not be announced until it has been accepted by the awardee.
If he accepts, Duterte will be the 14th head of state to receive the honorary degree.
Other former Philippine presidents conferred with the degree were Manuel Quezon (March 16, 1929), Sergio Osmeña (March 25, 1930), Manuel A. Roxas (April 13, 1948), Elpidio Quirino (Feb. 12, 1949), Emilio Aguinaldo (June 12, 1953), Ramon Magsaysay (April 5, 1955), Carlos García (April 7, 1959), Diosdado Macapagal (May 30, 1965), Ferdinand Marcos (May 22, 1966), José Laurel Sr. (April 20, 1969), Corazón Aquino (April 20, 1986), and Fidel Ramos (April 24, 1993).
Deposed President Joseph Estrada, who was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan over jueteng kickbacks but was later pardoned by his successor Gloria Arroyo, was also commencement speaker at the UP Diliman graduation in 1999.
Estrada and Arroyo were also offered the honorary degree but they turned it down. /atm
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