President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to accept an honorary degree from one of the most prestigious university in Russia this coming week, a month after declining similar award from the University of the Philippines (UP).
According to Malacañang, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations will confer an honorary doctorate on Duterte on Wednesday, May 24, the second day of his visit to Russia.
This is the first honorary doctorate that Duterte will receive as Philippine President.
The institute, also known as MGIMO University for short, is run by the Russian ministry of foreign affairs and is widely recognized as Moscow's premiere school for international studies and foreign policy.
In its website, MGIMO University has granted honorary degree to other presidents and prominent world leaders including Philippine's former president Fidel Valdez Ramos, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the late Singaporean minister Lee Kuan Yew.
On Wednesday, after receiving the award, President Duterte will deliver his speech in front of MGIMO's faculty and students discussing about his "independent foreign policy," and will also donate books to the school's library.
"We also see this visit as an indication of our strong common desire to enhance and strengthen bilateral relations," Natividad earlier told media, noting that the 40-year-old bilateral ties between Moscow and Manila is still at a "nascent stage."
"The relations can be best described as cordial, albeit, modest in scope and depth. Thus, we consider this visit as a landmark that will send a strong message of the Philippines’ commitment to seek new partnerships and strengthen relations with non-traditional partners such as Russia,” Natividad added.
She also anticipated that the President will "share his ideas on how to achieve peace and security, especially in the Asia Pacific region."
Duterte is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the first and second day of the official visit.