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Chiz on UP honorary degree to Duterte: Part of tradition, often controversial

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday defended the decision of the University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents (BOR) to offer an honorary doctorate to President Rodrigo Duterte, citing “tradition.”

In a statement, Escudero also clarified that he did not initiate the moves to offer an honorary degree to Duterte as per the earlier summary of the BOR’s April 5 meeting released by the university.

“I did not move but I did not object when it was proposed given that it is a UP tradition that Philippine heads of state (including the Chief Justice and Senate President) are offered honorary degrees when they are invited to be a commencement speaker (which is also a UP tradition),” Escudero said.

“Besides, almost every honorary degree offered by UP, most of the time, has been controversial and never unanimous. I guess that too is part of UP's long history and tradition,” he added.

Escudero, an alumnus of UP, is a member of the BOR in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

UP has also released a revised summary of the meeting, correcting its earlier publication. It says the conferment of Doctor of Laws degrees, honoris causa, was seconded by Regents Frederick Mikhail Farolan and Angelo Jimenez — both appointees of Duterte.

Escudero said the conferment of an honorary degree still depends on the conferee.

“It’s up to the conferee if he/she will accept it. This is not given unilaterally and needs to be accepted before being conferred,” the senator said.

The planned conferment was heavily criticized by some alumni of the UP, who started the hashtag #NoDegreeForDuterte and #DuterteNotWorthy.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte said his father “does not give a heck” about an honorary degree.

In a statement, the younger Duterte explained that his father taught his family well about the importance of education and hard work.

"Given that, and knowing my father, he does not give a heck with any 'honorary degree' simply because he knows he did not work hard for such a degree," he said. —KBK, GMA News