MANILA - Students and alumni of the University of the Philippines (UP) have denounced a plan of the institution's highest governing body to confer an honorary degree on President Rodrigo Duterte.
UP Board of Regents (BOR) Chair Patricia Licuanan earlier confirmed that the state university will award an honorary Doctor of Laws to Duterte, “in keeping with tradition.”
The President has declined the offer.
The report sparked a chorus of opposition within the UP community, with some critics saying that the President does not deserve the honoris causa because of the killings related to his anti-narcotics drive and his push for the reinstatement of death penalty.
UP Student Regent Raoul Danniel Manuel joined the outcry, saying Duterte "has not even exhibited excellence to date."
"Honors are not deserved by a President whose regime killed thousands of citizens and leaders of progressive groups under Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapayapaan," he added, referring to the administration's bloody anti-drug operations.
"Honors must not be given to a President that declares [an] 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."
Other UP insiders took to social media to vent their frustrations through posts, photos and memes bearing the hashtags #NoDegreeForDuterte and #DuterteNotWorthy, with the latter trending on Twitter for several hours.
Two "indignation protests" against the honorary award were held at Palma Hall in UP Diliman at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
DUTERTE NOT AFTER HONORARY DEGREE
Davao City Vice Mayor and presidential son Paolo Duterte however lambasted the groups who criticized the UP board's decision, saying his father "does not give a heck with any honorary degree" and will most likely turn down the award "simply because he knows he did not work hard for such a degree."
He made the statement before his father turned down the honor, which UP traditionally offers sitting Presidents.
"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," the younger Duterte said in a statement.
Some netizens also defended the President and dubbed his UP critics as "arrogant."
Malacañang meanwhile welcomed the reported honorary degree, but said the President is not running after it.
“Although he doesn’t run after awards, it would be a sign of goodwill from the premier institution. It’s quite an honor to receive that,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news briefing.
Abella added the Office of the President has yet to receive the reported offer of honorary degree.
UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay Jr. earlier said the state university has conferred honorary Doctor of Laws degrees on 12 previous Chief Executives, including Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
UP also offered the honorary degree was also offered to former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but Dalisay said his office can find no record of their official replies.