VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte repeats false claim on refusing awards, says honorary degree from a Moscow university an ‘exception’

President Rodrigo Duterte repeated his earlier false claim of making an exception to his policy of not accepting honors and awards.

STATEMENT

In his Oct. 5 speech after being awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University, Duterte said:

“As a matter of personal conviction and official policy, I have declined honors and awards, not only in my country, but others. As a matter of fact, this honor is the very first time today I have accepted such an [acknowledgment]…I have never done anything for the sake of accolades or personal glory. The satisfaction of knowing that I have served my people well is enough for me. But today, I make one big exception.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office official Facebook page, Conferment of Honorary Doctorate Degree, Oct. 6, 2019, watch from 00:12 to 02:30

FACT

While this is, indeed, his first time to accept an honorary degree, the president has already received at least eight other awards from various institutions in and out of the country during his term.

This is also not the first time Duterte claimed an "exception" to his policy against receiving awards. On Feb. 10, 2017, when he accepted the Man of the Year 2016 award from the Manila Times, he said:

“I do not accept awards. Except this one.”

Source: RTVMalacanang, The Manila Times 5th Business Forum (Speech) 2/10/2017, Feb. 11, 2017, watch from 9:11 to 9:15

Since he assumed office in 2016, Duterte has personally accepted the following awards within the country:

Duterte had also gotten at least two awards from international institutions:

  • Rizal Award from United Arab Emirates-based Filipino newspaper The Filipino Times in September 2018, received by Philippine Ambassador to UAE Hjayceelyn Quintana on his behalf; and
  • Honorary 9th Dan Blackbelt from the World Taekwondo Headquarters during his state visit in South Korea in June 2018.

In a November 2018 speech, Duterte falsely claimed he had never accepted any award apart from those conferred by his alma mater. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte falsely claims he never accepts awards)

Other known recipients of the honorary degree from MGIMO include former President Fidel Ramos in 1997 and former Chilean President and now United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet -- a critic of the Duterte government’s war on drugs -- in 2009.

Duterte earlier declined the controversial conferment of an honorary law degree by the University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents in 2017, citing his “personal and official policy” to reject such recognitions.


Sources

Presidential Communications Operations Office official Facebook page, Conferment of Honorary Doctorate Degree, Oct. 6, 2019

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University, Президент Филиппин Родриго Роа Дутерте — Почетный доктор МГИМО (Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte - Honorary Doctor MGIMO), Oct. 5, 2019

RTVMalacanang, Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte at the Manila Times 5th Business Forum, Feb. 11, 2017

The Manila Times, Duterte is The Manila Times ‘Man of the Year’, Feb. 11, 2018

Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the San Beda Law Grand Alumni Homecoming at Club Filipino in San Juan City on November 23, 2018, Nov. 24, 2018

Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Duterte graces annual San Beda Law Alumni Homecoming, Nov. 24, 2017

Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Duterte receives Honorary Scout Ranger Badge from First Scout Ranger Regiment, Nov. 24, 2017

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Duterte receives highest Knights of Rizal Award, Feb. 24, 2017

RTVMalacanang, San Beda Law Grand Alumni Homecoming, Nov. 26, 2016

Duterte and Go received honorary blackbelt titles

Department of Foreign Affairs, FILIPINOS IN UAE BESTOW AWARD TO PRESIDENT DUTERTE, Sept. 18, 2018

Official Gazette, Speech of President Ramos on the conferment of an Honorary Doctorate by the Moscow Institute of International Relations, Sept. 11, 1997

Office of the High Commissioner-United Nations High Commission, High Commissioner Bachelet calls on States to take strong action against inequalities, n.d.

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University, Honorary Doctors of MGIMO

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Cine Lokal Grand Launching (Speech) 4/19/2017, April 19, 2017


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)



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