BY JOHNNY DAYANG
The contentious polls that catapulted Joe Biden to the U.S. presidency have raised numerous observations from both sides of the partisan fence. Especially for the Philippines, this event has created has ramifications, big and small, that will impact the country’s alliance with the U.S.
Biden, the second Roman Catholic to win the U.S. presidency, is expected to get some support from his church. Spelled broadly, it translates to 51 million Catholics in the U.S. and 95 million in the Philippines. Even if his sect is a minority in the U.S., its connection to Filipinos will somehow create a subliminal impetus in the country’s downgraded alliance with the U.S.
But the larger role the president-elect will play is in issues affecting diplomacy, defense, and trade. Considered also as a hardliner in the U.S.-China discussion, Biden will most likely opt for a more robust presence in the China Sea, which should be in the best interest of Filipinos.
Conversely, if the next Philippine president swings back the country’s primary defense alliance to the U.S., the placement of foreign observation outposts in the West Philippine Sea islands becomes a non-issue. While the 1987 Constitution explicitly bans foreign military bases in the islands, the stationing of foreign troops has been going on for years in the South.
A highlight that should create friction with the incumbent Philippine leadership is Biden’s stance on human rights. With that in mind, the president-elect may embrace a policy that will reasonably allow again for a freer and smoother partnership between the two countries.
Biden’s value will also be seen in the legalization of 310,000 unauthorized Pinoy immigrants and the protection Filipino-American interests in the U.S. With 1.9 million Filipinos living there, the figure should be a strong political statement in favor of the president-elect.
In this time of diffidence, Biden’s views on global pandemic, trade disparities, defense collaboration, educational and technology exchange, diplomatic alliance, labor and employment, and world governance will be crucial themes the country should take advantage of.
A Biden presidency has also definitive and clearer import to the country than Trump’s leadership. Currently, US-Philippine relations are not pointedly warm even if the Palace says otherwise. It was during Trump’s presidency that President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the mutual defense pact and withdrew the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court.
That Biden is a diehard Republican makes sense for a country whose Constitution proudly proclaims its being a republic. While there are some contentious issues that need to be ironed out along the years, things may be brighter in a non-Trump leadership.