Is Duterte just choosy about awards, honors he accepts?

Pia Ranada

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Is Duterte just choosy about awards, honors he accepts?

Malacañang Photo

'Personal policy' not to accept awards? President Duterte has accepted some in the past.

Though President Rodrigo Duterte declined the University of the Philippines honorary degree by saying it’s his “personal policy” not to accept awards, he has had no qualms accepting other awards or forms of recognition in the past. 

In fact, as president, Duterte has accepted at least two awards, one from a media outfit, another from the Knights of Rizal.

Here are some awards he had accepted in the past:

The Manila Times “Man of the Year” Award

Only two months ago, last February 11, Duterte received The Manila Times’ “Man of the Year” Award in a ceremony held in Davao City. 

He even gave a speech before the newspaper’s executives and journalists, saying that though he does not usually accept awards, he would make an exception for this particular recognition.

“But now, maybe because it is high time, at least before I go beyond, I should have one award,” he quipped, to the amusement of his audience. 

According to a Manila Times article, Duterte was conferred the award for “overcoming the odds and changing the political landscape.” 

The Knight Grand Cross of Rizal rank

Also last February, the Knights of Rizal conferred its highest honor on the Duterte “for his unprecedented victory as President and restoring people’s faith in government.” 

Knights of Rizal, the only order of knighthood in the country, was created to honor the ideals of national hero Jose Rizal. 

Duterte accepted the award, describing it as a “humbling” experience. 

Most Oustanding Alumnus of LPU 

Duterte was recognized as among his alma mater’s “most oustanding” alumnus in March 2015, months before he announced his last-minute decision to run for president.

Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) said the then Davao City mayor was given the award because of his “incalculable services, exemplary dedication to duty, and outstanding achievements in positions of high responsibility.”

Duterte graduated from LPU in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts, major in Political Science, degree.

Among other forms of recognition Duterte publicly declined was his nomination for the World Mayor award back in 2014. The award, which seeks to promote achievements by mayors all over the world, is given every two years by the City Mayors Foundation. 

Duterte had then said he could not accept an award for something he was elected to do in the first place.

“I did it because it was my job…I did it not for my own glory, but because that was what the people expected me to do,” he had said.

Though Duterte maintains his policy is to not accept awards, it would be more accurate to say he is picky when it comes to which ones he accepts.

Could his decision to wave away the UP honorary degree be due to the outrage it sparked among UP students and alumni?

When news of UP’s offer of the award to him broke, netizens made the hashtag #DuterteNotWorthy trend on Twitter. UP students and alumni also staged a protest to oppose the plan. 

What could influence Duterte’s decision on whether or not to accept particular awards? One clue could die in the institution or group bequeathing the award. 

Duterte seems ready to accept awards from groups supportive of him or with whom he has close ties. LPU is his old school. The Knights of Rizal had expressed support for him in the past. Journalists and columnists of The Manila Times defend him in their articles. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.