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Interest high in US presidential elections

Two Mondays from today, on November 7, Americans will go to the polls to elect their next president. Filipinos have been closely following the election campaign, for it is significant to us in many ways. Elections are important to us and ours are patterned after the American system, without, of course, its primaries and its Electoral College. We even share such practices as mud-slinging, vote-buying, and – if Republican candidate Donald Trump is to be believed – election-rigging.

Quite apart from the formal ties between the Philippine and American governments, relations between our peoples are close. Today we have over a million Filipinos living in the US and about half of them are citizens who will be voting on November 7. They have a personal stake in the election. To this day, they maintain close contact with their families back home, many of whom would like to immigrate to the US, but the coming elections may well affect their hopes and ambitions.

Republican candidate Trump has taken a stand against helping the millions of illegal immigrants now in the US, including many Filipinos. He would send them all out of the country if he wins. He has also branded the Philippines a “terrorist state” along with Syria, Iran, and other Middle East countries whose people must not be allowed to enter the US.

Filipinos have also found so many other interesting aspects in the US elections. A woman is running for president for the first time in US history – Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party – and we are proud to point out that the Philippines is well ahead of the US in this regard — we have already had two woman presidents – Corazon C. Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The US election campaign has also had its share of expletives and curses from the mouth of one candidate; we had our own in the person of the one we elected last May. We have learned to take all this campaign rhetoric in stride. We are certain the Americans will too and they will vote more on issues, including US leadership in the world, employment and other economic issues, and who must be given the very grave responsibility of controlling America’s tremendous nuclear power.

Thus, on so many levels, the American elections are being followed today by the entire world, but most especially by our government and people. Our interest arises partly from our close relations to Americans as a people. We have yet to see if the relations between our two governments are also involved, considering or own President Duterte’s recent moves in foreign affairs. That is a bit of an unknown at this point and the uncertainty adds another dimension of interest in the coming US elections.