POSTSCRIPT / November 8, 2012 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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‘Why can’t we hold polls like US does?’

SIMPLE: The complicated process of electing the United States president using popular and electoral votes suddenly looked simple — after the millions of electronic ballots were cast, a verdict had emerged within one day and the loser conceded like a true gentleman.

Then the Filipino asks, “Why can’t we do it like they do?”

The answer, of course, is that we are Filipinos and we have our own confused way of doing, and undoing, things. What should be simple, we complicate.

On the matter of conceding defeat, for instance, we have only two known concessions by the loser in a presidential election. This is a footnote to the old joke that in the Philippines nobody loses an election, he is just cheated.

As I write this on the go, the US electoral vote was 303 for Barack Obama (Democrat) and 206 for Mitt Romney (Republican). The winner needed only 270 electoral votes.5

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FILAMS TURN OUT: The Department of Foreign Affairs shot a quick congratulatory message to newly reelected President Obama.

In its 65-word message, the foreign office said, “We are particularly gladdened by the high voter turnout of Filipino Americans and the increasingly active role they play in helping decide the future of the United States.”

Obama is the favorite of most Filipinos, who identify with the 51-year-old American African noted for his sympathy for minorities and immigrants in contrast to his 61-year-old Republican rival. In surveys in Manila, including one on the PhilSTAR website, Obama was on top.

Specially appreciated by immigrants was Obama’s widening the coverage of medical aid and his loosening of policy on the children of illegal aliens who are in a foreign land through no fault of theirs.9

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THE ECONOMY: With the growing number of Latinos and second-generation immigrants, the Republican Party will have to rethink its stand on migration, social services and taxation. The Grand Old Party has to accept the changing demographic landscape of America.

It appears that not enough Americans believed in the superiority of the economic revival program of Romney, who was described by critics as a rich plutocrat indifferent to middle class pain. Voters chose to give Obama another four years to fix the troubled economy.

After all, Obama had done his best to keep and create jobs, for instance going out of his way to save the giant auto industry. His moving to protect the US from a possible Great Depression left by the Republican Bush administration was appreciated.12

In the face of widespread unemployment, it was short of miraculous that Obama mustered enough votes to get reelected.

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WAR SCALED DOWN: Taking over from a more warlike Bush presidency, Obama brought home the troops from Iraq, scaled down US involvement in foreign wars, aside from eliminating the dreaded terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

On the eve of Election Day, he told a rally: “Tomorrow, from the granite of New Hampshire to the Rockies of Colorado, from the coastlines of Florida, to Virginia’s rolling hills, from the valleys of Ohio to these Iowa fields, we will keep America moving forward.”

Obviously, the war-weary American nation nursing economic bruises believed him, or at least placed its hope in him.

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CHINA TRANSITION: Halfway around the globe in Beijing, another transition unreels today. This is the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that will give a hint of what direction the world’s second biggest economy will take in the next five years and beyond.

The CPC, which will be 100 years in 2020, provides the leaders crafting policy and giving impetus to a China reaching out to the world in trade and diplomacy. The party is widely expected to install relative conservatives who are not likely to rock the boat.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, general secretary at the current party congress, is set to be replaced by Vice President Xi Jinping. Vice Premier Li Keqiang will take over from Premier Wen Jiabao. After the transition, Hu and Wen will formally step down in March.

Filipinos note that China’s leaders are not elected by popular vote or by an electoral college as in the US, but chosen by the ruling Communist Party to whose inner workings the average Chinese is not privy.

How will the new leaders handle the bilateral and regional irritants in China’s relations with its neighbors, the Philippines included, and the big powers? Can the new bosses manage what looks like a wavering of the two-digit growth chalked up in recent years?

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ANTI-RH BILL: Catholics across the country will gather on Nov. 12 to pray against the proposed Reproductive Health bill.

The bill would allow universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices. It would also enforce “sexual education” for children starting at the 5th grade level.

Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they do not provide free services to their employees.

Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo called the event an occasion for the faithful to unite in prayer in blocking the bill. He is chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

The prayer gathering in Manila will be at the Nuestra Señora de Guia parish church in Ermita. The event will also celebrate the 9th anniversary of Rosary for Life in the Philippines. The association has programs raising awareness on the negative effects of abortion and the RH bill.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 8, 2012)

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