MANILA: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte will receive an honorary doctorate from one of Russia’s top universities, on Wednesday — the day Duterte began his five-day visit to the country.
The Moscow State Institute of International Relations University (MGIMO), which serves as a training ground for diplomats, is set to confer the honorary degree to Duterte on Saturday, when the Filipino president will also deliver a lecture at the university.
“After he gets the degree I hope I’m the first one to greet him as ‘Doctor Duterte,’” Philippine Ambassador to the Russian Federation Carlos Sorreta said, adding, “It’s a degree that’s given to heads of states and leaders.
“MGIMO is . . . the top university for training Russians in foreign affairs and international business transactions. So it’s something we are looking forward to,” he continued.
Duterte was originally scheduled to receive the same degree from MGIMO last May 24, 2017, during his first visit to Russia. But the awarding was canceled because the President's visit was cut short due to fighting in Marawi City.
The plan to confer the degree to Duterte, who is widely accused of human rights violations because of his bloody war, likewise received criticisms. Andrei Silantiev, a political scientist at MGIMO even called it a "shame" in a Facebook post on May 23, 2017.
Aside from his lecture at the university, Duterte is also scheduled to give a speech in Sochi City at the annual forum organized by the Valdai Discussion Club, a prominent Russian think tank.
“In this visit, it’s a little bit different because the president is not only meeting with President (Vladimir) Putin, but is also his guest at the Valdai forum, to give his views on the world order,” Sorreta said.
“I think the Philippines is in a great position to speak about the Eastern perspective in terms of the world order, because … our traditions, our values, are heavily dependent on Western education but we are located in the East, our neighbors are all Eastern.”
In a statement before his departure for Moscow on Tuesday night, Duterte said the visit was a good opportunity to further strengthen ties with the Russian Federation, saying that the two countries “share key strategic interests both bilaterally and in the larger Asia-Pacific region.”
He continued: “We will identify ways of further intensifying cooperation in security and defense, combatting terrorism and violent extremism, and addressing transnational crimes.”
Duterte said he expected “key agreements” to be signed in a number of areas, including political cooperation, health, science and technology, and culture.
“I will also join President Putin and other world leaders at the Forum of the Valdai Discussion Club. We are each expected to provide our own perspective on the topic ‘The Dawn of the East and the World Political Order,’” Duterte explained.
“This will be an opportune occasion to articulate, to a key audience, our independent Philippine foreign policy — one that is based on respect for sovereignty and non-interference, the time-honored principles of international law. Apparently this most basic principle that governs the relations between nations has been forgotten by some idiots in some parts of the world,” he concluded.