US shift in COVID-19 response, return to Paris Agreement under Biden could benefit PH — Analyst

Marje Pelayo   •   November 10, 2020   •   248

MANILA, Philippines — Some policies under the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden could benefit the Philippines, according to political analyst Tony La Viña.

Under Biden, the US government is expected to be more active and open to working with other nations in the search for a COVID-19 cure.

The Philippines may now consider the US as another potential source of Covid vaccine other than China and Russia.

“Kung si Trump ang nanalo, hindi niya ibabahagi ang vaccine nila sa atin. Ngayon kay Biden […] first day of office sabi niya, ‘We are going back to the World Health Organization to cooperate with other countries on the vaccine.'” La Viña noted.

As a country prone to natural disasters, the Philippines may also benefit from America’s return to the Paris Climate Change agreement.

On the other hand, La Viña said, one of the possible conflicts between the administrations of Biden and President Rodrigo Duterte is on the issue of human rights given the Democrats’ strong stand on the matter.

It can be recalled that the Duterte administration’s relationship with the administration of then President Barack Obama turned sour because of the latter’s criticisms on the former’s war on drugs.

Nevertheless, the overall US-Philippines relationship remains good despite conflicting stands.

Minsan ine-exaggerate natin ang presidential statements. But in reality even under Duterte, we have been able to collaborate and cooperate with the US very well,” La Viña said.

With regard to the territorial issues on the West Philippine Sea, the US has been vocal about its support for the Philippines, and Biden is expected to sit down with its allies in the region. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Philippines extends VFA abrogation for another 6 months

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has extended anew the suspension of the termination of its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday.

Locsin said Duterte has decided to extend for another six months the suspension of the defense pact’s termination amid lingering tensions in the South China Sea.

He said the move will enable both sides to “find a more enhanced,  mutually beneficial,  mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement  on how to move forward  in our  mutual defense.”

“The past four years have changed the South China Sea from one of uncertainty about great powers’ intentions to one of predictability and resulting stability with regard to what can and cannot be done, what will and will not be acceptable with regard to the conduct of any protagonist in the South China Sea. Clarity and strength have never posed a risk.  It is confusion and indecision that aggravate risk,” Locsin said in a statement addressed to White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

“A great deal of credit for the renewal of stability and security goes to deft diplomacy, unequivocal expressions of policy, sturdy postures of strength combined with unfailing tact, and pragmatic national security advice exhibited by both our governments in the same period,” he added

Duterte first suspended in June 2020 the termination of the military accord “in light of political and other developments” in the United States.

The VFA came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

Duterte ordered the abrogation of the pact last year after the US revoked the visa of a senator and ally.

Biden becomes 46th US president after Pennsylvania win

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic party has won Pennsylvania, surpassing the needed 270 electoral votes to take the White House and become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden on Saturday’s election results released the following statement as president-elect:

“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America. With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Biden also won Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan as he heads to the presidency, “flipping states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.”

Trump needed the Pennsylvania win to stay in power. 

Biden’s win came after days of uncertainty as the processing of some ballots was delayed when election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992, the AP said.

The 77-year-old Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and sought to contrast his working-class roots with the affluent Trump’s by casting the race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue.” —/mbmf

Biden confident of winning US presidency; appeals for calm as counting continues

Maris Federez   •   November 7, 2020

Former US Vice President Joe Biden is confident of winning the US presidential elections.

In his speech, Biden said, “We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers tell us it’s clear… tells a clear and convincing story. We’re gonna win this race.”

Biden made the speech amid the increase in the gap between his votes and that of President Donald Trump in the states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Biden is also enjoying a strong lead in Nevada and Arizona.

“We’re gonna win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us. We’ve gotten over 74 million votes […] that’s more than any presidential ticket has ever gotten in the history of the United States of America. And our vote total is still growing. We’re beating Donald Trump by over 4 million votes. That’s a margin that’s still growing as well,” the former vice president said.

“We’re goin’ to be the first democrat to win Arizona in 24 years. We’re gonna be the first democrat to win Georgia in 28 years. And we’ve rebuilt the blue wall in the middle of the country that crumbled just four years ago,” he added.

The former leader also appealed to his fellow Americans to be more patient as the whole nation waits for the completion of the counting of ballots for the US Presidential elections.

He also urged the public to trust the country’s democratic process.

“I know watching this vote tallies on TV moves very slow… and as slow as it goes it could be numbing. But never forget, the tallies aren’t just numbers. They represent votes and voters. Men and women who exercise their fundamental right to have their voice heard,” he said.

“We both know tensions are high. They can be high after a tough election, one like we’ve had […] We have to remain calm, patient. Let the process work out as we count all the votes,” the Biden further said.

Biden also acknowledged how Americans hold strong views and that they are signs of democracy.

“We maybe opponents, but we’re not enemies. We’re Americans, no matter who you voted for, I’m certain of one thing. The vast majority of 150 million Americans voted. They want to get victory out of politics,” Biden said.

“We certainly won’t agree with a lot of issues but at least we can agree to be civil with one another. Let’s put the anger and demonization behind us. It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal,” he added.

As of 2PM (Philippine time), as reported in the Associated Press, Biden is winning with 264 electoral votes against Trump’s 214.

The former vice president did not comment on Trump’s allegations of cheating in the elections in his speech.

The president, on the other hand, did not meet the press on Friday night but demonstrators have gathered outside the White House to wait for the result of the elections. — /mbmf

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