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UP’s Student Regent slams degree for Duterte: Honor, excellence ain’t his traits

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University of the Philippines Student Regent Raoul Danniel Manuel has criticized the move of school administrators to confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on President Rodrigo Duterte, saying he is undeserving of such a recognition.

In a statement, Manuel said it is “ironic” that the Board of Regents, UP’s highest policy making body, will want to honor Duterte considering that the school fought against Martial Law and the President moved to have former strongman Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani “against the will of the people.”

“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 said. “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.”

For a school that takes pride in its motto of honor and excellence, Manuel said Duterte has not even shown what it means to be excellent.

“His plan to continue neoliberal policies, which ultimately enhance profit generation for the privileged few, have resulted in unfulfilled promises. Contractualization will becoming more rampant through Department Order 174. Collection of profits from students will be systematized through nationwide implementation of socialized tuition,” he said.

While Manuel said the conferment of an honorary degree to Duterte will not be the first time the university will bestow such a recognition on a Philippine president, he said the BOR’s plan must be stopped.

“Let us fight for a university of the people: a university that serves as social critic and defender of the oppressed,” the Student Regent said.

“We call on all members of the UP community to demand accountability from President Duterte for his attacks on the people,” he added.

Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan, a co-chair of the BOR, has confirmed the plan to confer an honorary degree on Duterte but said he has yet to accept it.

Manuel said a series of protests will be held beginning April 19 until May 1 in opposition of the recognition to be given to the President.