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Palace: Duterte not angling for UP honorary degree, but may accept it if offered

Malacañang on Wednesday indicated that President Rodrigo Duterte might accept the honorary doctorate degree once it is formally offered by the University of the Philippines Board of Regents, but added that he is not "angling" for it.

In a briefing, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella stressed that Duterte was not gunning for the citation.

“If it’s offered, I suppose he would [accept]. It doesn’t really matter if it’s offered or not,” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a press briefing. “Why not? But it’s not something he runs after.” 

Abella said it would be an honor for Duterte to accept an honorary doctorate degree from one of the top learning institutions in the country.

“Although he does not run after awards, it would be a sign of goodwill towards the highest—well, one of the most premiere—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,” he said.

However, the UP Board of Regents has not sent any official statement or document about the conferment to Malacañang.

“As far as we know, there’s no official statement. Official communication, none,” Abella said.

Asked about his thoughts on the backlash from the UP community on the possible conferment, the spokesperson smiled and replied, “That’s to be expected.”

Some UP students and alumni protested against the conferment of an honorary degree on Duterte, whom they see as directly responsible for the extrajudicial killings being linked to his active campaign against illegal drugs.

The UP Student Regent said Duterte does not deserve the recognition, because his actions supposedly legitimize the killing of the poor through his drug war and his desire to reimpose the death penalty. —KBK, GMA News