Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden removes his mask before speaking in Wilmington, Delaware on Nov. 4. Biden took a major step forward in the polls with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin even as Trump’s campaign launched a flurry of lawsuits in several states. / AFP
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MANILA, Philippines — It might be a challenge to develop a good relationship between President Duterte and former United States vice president Joe Biden should he win the presidency in the hotly contested race in the US, according to a political analyst.
But regardless of whether US President Donald Trump survives his re-election campaign or loses to his Democratic challenger, Malou Tiquia said the outcome would still be a “win” for the Philippines.
“I think it is a ‘win-win’ (situation for us) because vice president Biden is not really left of center. He’s a centrist,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino during an interview with The Chiefs aired on One News/TV5 on Wednesday.
“He reaches out both to the Republicans and Democrats,” she added, noting that he may not be as interventionist as other left-leaning Democrats in terms of foreign policy.
Nevertheless, she said it would be challenging to establish good ties with Biden as he is expected to toe the line of his party on key issues such as human rights.
“I think that would be very challenging… because they have a different frame of mind,” she said of Duterte and Biden.
Tiquia also noted Duterte’s previous criticisms of former US president Barack Obama, in whose administration Biden served as vice president from 2009 to 2017.
Some members of the Democratic Party have spoken against the Duterte administration, such as Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy who filed a provision in the 2020 US budget that will deny entry to Filipino officials responsible for the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima.
Citing human rights issues hounding the Duterte administration, Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild also filed a bill seeking the suspension of US security assistance to the Philippines until reforms are made in the police and military.
In contrast, Tiquia said a Trump win would mean that nothing would change in the relationship between Manila and Washington.
“We know Trump. I think nothing will change. He will remain as he is (if he wins),” she said in Filipino. “For ordinary Filipinos, they saw him as someone similar to (Duterte).”
Projections as of Thursday afternoon (Manila time) show that Biden only needs six electoral votes to clinch the election, which he would get should he sustain his lead in the state of Nevada.
Trump cried fraud and mobilized his legal team after his lead was wiped out in key battleground states such as Michigan and Wisconsin after mailed-in votes were counted hours after the polls closed.
Stricter policy against China
In the same program, New York-based Noelle Malvar-Morcos – senior researcher at research firm More in Common – noted that Biden’s foreign policy against China is actually stricter than that of Trump.
“His actions and dealings with the president of China is not as tough and not reflective of what is he saying,” she said in Filipino, referring to Trump’s policies on trade, importation and taxation.
“Biden has stricter policy. I do not know if voters including Filipino Americans are aware of such nuances wherein one says something in public and do something in private and in terms of policy,” she added.
Among Filipino American voters, she noted that those in coastal cities tend to be more supportive of the Democrats.
“But as we all know, Filipinos are everywhere,” she added, saying those in conservative states may trend toward Republicans.
She also noted that the ideological differences between generations also reflect among Filipino Americans, noting that the younger ones tend to be more liberal and vote democratic.
Ricky Rillera, former president of the Filipino-American Press Club of New York, also agreed with the generational divide, noting that parents tend to vote for Republicans because of their Christian values.
While younger ones are more liberal and may vote for Democrats, he stressed the need to get more data to determine how many actually participate in the elections.
In general, Rillera said Filipino Americans for Democrats have a strong following while their counterpart is much more quiet.
“They are so organized this time that in almost all of the (battleground) states, they have actually people on the ground. They have been working on calling all of the Filipino Americans that are registered in these states,” he said to those supporting the Democratic Party.
“The Filipino Americans for Republicans, it is quiet. They only have surrogates who say ‘let us just wait for Election Day,’” he added.
Several reports previously featured Filipino Americans who support Trump, drawing criticisms from social media users who point out the incumbent president’s anti-immigration policies.
‘Bilateral relations prevail’
Malacañang, meanwhile, affirmed yesterday the Philippines’ continuing good bilateral relations with the United States whether or not US President Donald Trump gets a fresh mandate or lose to Sen. Joe Biden.
Asked if a Biden presidency will be good or bad for the country, Roque said the Philippines and the United States’ long standing close bilateral relations will prevail whoever wins the US presidential elections.
“Whoever wins, it should not be a problem. We can work with any president because we have a long history of very close friendship with the United States,” Roque said in a mix of Filipino and English yesterday.
The President’s spokesman issued the statement after Biden took a big leap in the polls, showing the senator getting 264 electoral votes while Trump scores remain at 214.
Speaking at a 2020 US presidential election watch event in the US embassy in Manila the other day, charge d’affaires John Law said the US-Philippine alliance “will not change and will only grow and flourish for many years to come,” regardless of who wins the US vote.
Senators said yesterday they do not expect much change in relations between the Philippines and the US whoever wins the White House.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who chairs the Senate committee on foreign relations, said “nothing much will change.”
“The US has many problems too. It will have to ‘fix’ itself first. The Philippines just has to continue with our ‘independent foreign policy’ welcoming and treating all States as friends,” Pimentel said in a message to reporters.
Sen. Francis Tolentino and whoever wins the US presidency “would consider not just our historic bilateral relations but the regional security and trade relations as well.”
Sen. Imee Marcos however thinks ties between the Philippines and the US “can only strengthen regardless of who wins the presidential elections.”
She said President Duterte and US President Donald Trump have always had a personal affinity while Joe Biden and the Democrats “have always been generous to the Philippines.” – Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero
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