By Macon Araneta

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Philippines stands to gain from the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“I see a Biden presidency positive for the country and the rest of the Southeast Asian nations. I see a myriad of opportunities for the Philippines that has close historical, political, economic, cultural, and emotional ties with the US. Among the Southeast Asian nations, the Philippines is in the best position to actively pursue its interests,” Drilon said.

“The Philippines is a longtime ally of the US. Around 40 percent of overseas OFW remittances come from the US and 70 percent of business process outsourcing revenues come from the US. The Filipinos are on the top four ethnic groups in the US,” he emphasized.

Drilon said these give the Philippines an edge over other SEA nations insofar as its relationship with the US is concerned. But the gains will not be automatic, Drilon said.

“The US foreign policy under Biden would be naturally anchored on US national interests. That will determine US foreign policy vis-a-vis the Philippines, on issues such as the West Philippine Sea, extra-judicial killings, climate change, trade, among others,” Drilon said.

“That is the reason why the Duterte administration, through the Department of Foreign Affairs headed by Sec. Teddy Locsin Jr., must actively engage the US and leverage the country’s unique advantages, ” he said.

Drilon said it is very important that the country is able to assert its unique advantages and its deeply rooted partnership and relationship with the US, especially now that there are SEA nations like Vietnam, whose interest, particularly with regard to China, has shown to complement that of the US.

“President-elect Biden will be less constrained with regard to foreign policy,” Drilon said, “Hence, the Biden presidency will likely move faster and will have more significant gains in his foreign policy initiatives, like improving US relationships with SEA nations, rejoining the World Health Organization, the Paris Climate Treaty, the anti-nuclear proliferation treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran Nuclear Deceleration Treaty, a more aggressive implementation of Magnitsky Act, etc.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Leila De Lima said the election of former Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris as vice-president, to record-level voter turnout in the United States is a testament to their country’s resolve in participating in, and protecting, their democracy.

De Lima said the tenacity with which Biden conducted his campaign is truly remarkable as his path to the US Presidency was littered with seemingly insurmountable odds, not least of which were the solid conservative base, Trump’s strong social media presence and the fact that he ran against a sitting president. 

“Trump was propelled into presidency during the international wave of populism following a social media scandal that were interpreted by many to have manipulated many voters through fake news and targeted messaging,” she said. 

The resolve in which Biden and his supporters rallied, De Lima said, is truly inspiring to all whose voice was silenced by the populist rhetoric around the world. They have shown that real democracy can overcome fabricated populism and that faith in well-informed and properly motivated electorates is never misplaced.

“Now, the work of the incoming administration is cut out for them. We live in a world that has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On top of guiding his country towards recovery from COVID-19, Biden needs to reach out to old allies and once again bridge the ties that his predecessor has since severed. 

The United States needs to again be at the forefront in the issues on international cooperation, democracy, human rights, and climate change.

“Of great relevance to the Philippine situation is Biden’s campaign pledge to place human rights at the core of US foreign policy.”

Duterte’s mouthpieces say whether it is Biden or Trump, there is not much change expected in US-PH relations. This after Duterte, whose disdain for human rights is well-known and richly documented, endorsed his fellow populist Trump.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said shifting geopolitical tides, changing global trade winds, and a world devastated by the pandemic call for a nimble foreign policy that is solely dictated not by being pro-Beijing nor pro-Biden but pro-Filipino.

“So, it’s time to stop fighting and stop hating. Many are also unaware that (Biden) is a practicing Catholic, the only second Catholic winner in the US. John F. Kennedy was the first. Now it’s time to start believing in each other and that the American dream is for everyone, not just a few,” said Senate Majority leader Migz Zubiri.