Honoris Causa For PDuterte: An Aborted Plan!

The “plan” to confer an honorary doctorate degree on Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte by the University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regent (BOR) was aborted easily by no less than the President himself. President Duterte declined to accept the conferment for a very simple reason: Accepting such degrees or any kind of distinction is not within his policy, not in his wildest dreams, not in his blood, and not even a hidden desire for it  ever since he was a Mayor of Davao City!

The said “plan” which was disclosed and disseminated via social media triggered several reactions and impressions from both pro and anti-Duterte camps.

The anti-Duterte camp (represented by some representatives of the Schools Student Regent, faculty and alumni) vehemently objected to the said mere “plan” (Since it was just a plan, it is presumed that no official letter has been sent to Malacanang Palace by BOR to this effect). An outcry from the anti-Duterte camp poured in, basically calling Duterte “unworthy” and “undeserving” of such recognition. The said “plan” gave an opportunity for the anti-Duterte to make some noise, to air once again their usual tirades against the President, on his war on illegal drugs and his non-conventional Presidential manners. In fact, one alumni wasn’t able to keep his cool and official demeanor. He was very vocal in expressing his personal dissent on the “plan”. He stated a very challenging and revealing viewpoint, i.e., that he was “offended” by the said plan to recognize Duterte as one of the School’s honorees, whom he believes has “encouraged impunity and weakened the rule of law in the country” .

Because of their anger and hatred on the man, they publicly vented out their disagreement, missing to inquire from the BOR the rationale for the conferment plan. It would be interesting to know the justifications of the BOR’s planned conferment, apart from Duterte being the country’s President. It should be noted that the President didn’t even request for it. Honorary doctorates are normally conferred to distinguished people such as leaders of the country, Presidents and Prime Ministers.

The proactive and reliable supporters of the President, on the other hand, never failed to defend the President on the said issue. To a certain degree, they are always reasonably armed to the teeth to counter the attacks of the other camp. In fact, some of them actually suggested for the President not to accept the offer.

The said “plan” made it to the web world as one of the controversial issues for the day of April 19th. I thought the “plan” was premeditated to be aborted. Some questions were rolling through my mind: Why was the “plan” unveiled so speedily? To ignite arguments? Was the plan discussed among all the members? Did they agree unanimously? Apparently, there were members who were against it. One of the members could have squealed the said plan for obvious reasons.  Such a divisive move from a state university.

While for some, the conferment of honorary degrees may be a privilege and an honor, but for Duterte  it’s not a big deal. He’s not the type that runs after recognition. He’s more interested and determined to provide genuine good service to his countrymen. It was admirable to hear the President’s logical and humble way of saying regrets even if the way the “plan” was broadcast  had a negative connotation at the outset.

Some might have thought what I thought. That the said “plan” may have been premeditated to be aborted, maybe it was meant to be! In the first place, honorary degrees should be sincerely conferred to a person sans vested interests and with no ifs and buts.  And such conferment should have not been revealed  prior to the acceptance/unacceptance of the conferee.

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