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UP offers honorary degree to Duterte

In this Feb. 23, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte is presented to Knights of Rizal Supreme Commander Reynato Puno Sr. for the conferment of the Knight Grand Cross of Rizal during the 21st International Assembly and Conference of the Knights of Rizal at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City. PPD/Robinson Niñal Jr.

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:38 p.m.) — The University of the Philippines has offered President Rodrigo Duterte with an honorary doctor of laws degree, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan confirmed on Tuesday.

"In keeping with tradition, the UP will confer an honorary degree on the president. President Duterte has yet to accept," Licuanan said in text message to The STAR.

Another source, who requested anonymity, also cited the tradition to invite the president to speak at the graduation of the university.

"But not all presidents accepted the honoris causa," the source said, referring to the honorary degree.

Former President Benigno Aquino III accepted the honorary degree in 2011. He also served as the commencement speaker at the graduation at UP Diliman that year.

Former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not accept the offer for the honorary degrees. Both former presidents, however, spoke at the commencement exercises.

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Not yet final

The minutes of the April meeting of the UP Board of Regents—the highest-policy making body of the university—showed that the board discussed the conferment of honorary degrees upon the motion of Sen. Francis Escudero.

It was stated that the conferment of the degrees will not be announced until the awardee has accepted the offer.

Escudero is the representative of the Senate to the board as he chairs the committee on education. His motion was seconded by regents Spocky Farolan and Angelo Jimenez, both appointees of Duterte.

Meanwhile, student regent Raoul Manuel said the conferment of the honorary degree to the president is still not final.

"It is the BOR that has the final say if the honorary degree will be conferred. Technically, the BOR has not yet decided. The offer could have been done under the table," he said in a text message to the STAR.

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