Watching with bated breath

Watching with bated breath

Former US President Barak Obama (left) and Presidential Candidate Joe Biden

While we are writing this piece, a day after the US portentous elections and hours before our column deadline, we can’t help but look, somehow, at the feasible implications of the administration of the 46th President as regards policies that might affect the Philippines.

We need not wait for January 20, 2021 to listen to the echoes of the President’s inaugural address at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC to have a glimpse on the directions the chief of state may take as far as the Philippines, an ally for nearly 80 years, is concerned.

Perhaps by the time this comes out, the winner shall have clinched the 270 electoral votes needed to win – from 538 members of the Electoral College.

The Philippines’ ambassador to the United States himself, appointed to his post by President Rodrigo Duterte during the Trump administration, has said a volume that there could be a shift in foreign policy and on the economic situation if the Democratic Party’s Joseph Biden should beat the incumbent in the race to the White House.

Of course, whoever is the winner, Manila can deal with either a Democrat or a Republican chief executive as far as the economy is concerned, with Filipinos in the US of A having erected what is admitted by many Filipinos as a “very good image” and whoever has been president has always been kind to some extent to the Filipino community.

Another plus going for the Philippines is the great number of front liners in nearly all the states during the pandemic, whose virus has infected at least 9.58 million, with most states spiking again to highs not seen since the July peak, and killed 234,000, and the numbers are rising.

Divisive issues during the November polls have included the impact of the pandemic, racial and income inequality, the economy and how to revive it after the widespread health emergency-induced retraction, protests in reactions to the police killing of George Floyd and other African Americans, the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the confirmation of Amy Coney Barret, climate change regulations, the Mexican Wall controversy, particularly the Paris Agreement from which Trump plans to withdraw and the future of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes known as the Obamacare Act signed in 2010..

Biden has argued for protecting and expanding the scope of the Obamacare legislation and Trump has been pushing for its repeal.

There were suggestions, which we also pick up for consideration, that a Trump victory means his brand of “America First” will not only continue but be reinforced.

On the other hand, a Biden triumph can point to a reversion to neo-liberalism that has defined the US since the end of World War 2.

It is not clear how this will evolve in the post-COVID-19 environment, given the huge debt overhang and amid calls for more government intervention to address social and economic inequality issues.

Closer to the Philippine heart is the immigration issue.

We join others in keeping a close watch on this whether there will be changes in terms of immigration, with Romualdez noting there had been more deportations during the administration of President Barack Obama than during the Trump administration.

US Immigration sources have said millions were deported during Obama’s presidency from 2009 to 2017, and almost 600,000 undocumented youth were given relief since from deportation since 2012 under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or simply known as DACA.

To date, there are 350,000 Filipinos standing before immigration courts for overstaying.

While the Trump administration has sought the pullout of some American industries from China, the Philippines is promoting itself as “the pathway to Asia,” according to Romualdez.

We join others in the conviction that, while Washington’s influence on Manila operates on several layers, no one can deny the psychologically close ties of the Filipinos to the United States, with the Filipino trust level in the United States constant as among the highest in the world.

There will be other issues to be considered.

But’ meanwhile, we have our eyes glued to the political screen that reports daily on post-election scenarios in the United States.

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