‘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,’ says President Duterte’s eldest son

DEFENDING DUTERTE. Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte comes to his father’s defense as netizens express anger over reports that President Rodrigo Duterte will be offered an honorary UP doctorate degree. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

MANILA, Philippines – Undeserving of an honorary University of the Philippines (UP) doctorate degree? President Rodrigo Duterte couldn’t care less for awards.

Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte made the statement in response to the outrage of UP students and alumni to reports that their university is offering his father an honorary degree.

"Knowing my father, he does not give a heck [about] any ‘honorary degree’ simply because he knows he did not work hard for such a degree. All throughout the years of his public life, President Rodrigo Duterte has always shied away from public recognitions," the eldest presidential son said in a statement on Wednesday, April 19.

He scorned those who think his father is undeserving of the honor. On Wednesday morning, the hashtag "#DuterteNotWorthy" trended on Twitter.

"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," said the Vice Mayor.

Paolo said that while the President is likely to turn down the award, he has always taught his children the value of education.

He thanked the UP Board of Regents (BOR), the university’s policy-making body which decides on conferment of such degrees, for considering his father.

"Our family though [thanks] the UP Board of Regents for even considering our father. Pero ok na akong papa (But my father is okay with) being the President of the Republic of the Philippines," said Paolo.

According to an Inquirer report, it was Senator Francis Escudero, the Senate representative to the BOR, who initiated discussions on the conferment of the degree to Duterte.

The awarding of such honorary degrees to Philippine presidents is a tradition. The conferment usually takes place during the first year of the president.

Previous presidents, like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, have turned down the recognition.

Netizens, especially UP students, took to social media to express their fierce opposition to the plan, with some saying UP’s conferment of the degree would make it "complicit" to Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

The Office of the Student Regent also released a statement to condemn the offer, saying, "Honors must not be given to a president that declares 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." – Rappler.com