According to the late UN Secretary-General and UP President Carlos P. Romulo, the University of the Philippines (UP) is a “hallowed ground.”
The current Board of Regents (BOR) of UP has offered an honorary doctor of laws degree to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Reason given is that it has been part of university tradition to confer honorary degree to Philippine presidents.
An honorary degree, in Latin honoris causa (“for the sake of the honor”), is given to distinguished individuals for their outstanding contributions in a specific field or to society in general.
It is our modest belief that the sitting Philippine President does not deserve the honor.
Like former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, President Duterte should, likewise, refuse the honorary degree conferment.
The extrajudicial killings of more than 8,000 suspected drug traffickers and users since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016 is our main reason.
This President is also pushing for the restoration of death penalty despite a treaty commitment to the contrary by the Philippine Government.
Mr. Duterte has been criticized and condemned by international human rights organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Filipino Catholic bishops, the United Nations, European Union, U.S. State Department, The New York Times and most of international media have similarly reacted against the killings associated with the Duterte anti-drugs campaign.
The UP community has expressed disapproval and disappointment over the BOR decision.
UP students, faculty and alumni have expressed outrage in social media since the announcement was made.
A former UP student regent said it all, “The only honorary degree that the University of the Philippines should confer to President Duterte: Doctor of Crimes Against Humanity.”
The 2012 student regent added, “To confer the highest academic honor to a president that is implicated to thousands of killings is an insult to the very soul of UP.”
Then, he asked, “Where is honor and excellence in this?”
We ask the same question.