POSTSCRIPT / November 5, 2020 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Trump OK for Du30 and Biden for FilAms

NEW YORK – Contacting some Filipino American friends and relatives in various US locations last week to get an informal sampling of how they were likely to vote, we found them split between President Trump (R) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D).

Those who favor Trump said their economic standing has improved or at least been maintained despite the pandemic causing a variety of problems all around. They appreciated the US version of the “ayuda” mailed to them during the economic squeeze.

Some said they disliked Trump for being a liar who has no qualms inventing “facts” while slamming imagined “fake news”. They are turned off by his attacking Obamacare, which they like, without submitting a superior substitute to the existing Affordable Health Care program.

They said that Biden strikes them as having a more humane attitude toward people of color, minorities and immigrants like them.

We’re not saying that those we have talked to were a fair representative sample of the more than four million Filipinos and FilAms in the US.

In sum, we think that while Trump staying another four years in the White House would be good for President Duterte, Biden as president would be a welcome change for many FilAms in the US.

On our own, we think Duterte will be more comfortable with Trump than with Biden despite the US leader’s often taking issue with China President Xi Jinping, a friend of Duterte. Trump’s hitting China, we think, was just for show to gain election points.

Duterte won’t find it easy adjusting to Biden, a Democratic who would remind him of then President Obama whom he had accused of meddling in Philippine affairs — which would be largely his criticizing alleged human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

We think that Duterte’s publicized dislike for the Obama administration was partly intended to catch the eye of Xi Jinping by dramatizing his supposed disdain for the sitting Democratic president and the US in general.

From the time Duterte first visited Beijing in 2016, when he announced his distancing from the US, the Philippines’ only treaty ally, he has snuggled closer to China, a move that had earned him promises of massive Chinese aid, loans and investments. (Most of them are still promises.)

His lover’s quarrel with the US has culminated in his serving notice of termination, effective 180 days from Feb. 11, 2020, of the 20-year-old Phl-US Visiting Forces Agreement that defines the status of either country’s military personnel when stationed in the other country.

Had Duterte not suspended on June 1 the 180-day countdown, the VFA would have been terminated by now. Something must have happened, aside from the restoration of the canceled US visa of Duterte’s protégé Sen. Bato dela Rosa, to make him change his mind.

 How soon can US regain normalcy?

THE QUESTION playing in our mind as we watch the Trump-Biden duel for the presidency is: How soon can this divided nation bind its wounds and nurse itself back to normalcy?

We look for an answer as we admire Americans’ lining up patiently at the poll precincts, pushing the turnout beyond the surge of more than 100 million early voters who had cast their ballots by mail or dropped them in voting stations days before.

A conflict is always generated by such a massive political exercise as a presidential election. Tension builds up — then finds resolution, leading to normalcy after the winner is declared and formally sworn in.

I wait for an answer as I’m afraid that the longer the question hangs and the longer the loser refuses to concede, the greater is the risk of something untoward exploding. Maybe it is just my imagination, coming as I do from a country notorious for its violent elections.

It was earlier reported that some quarters were preparing to go to court to question the integrity of some of the tally, but such moves could be brushed aside if they prove to be too small to affect the total vote in a state.

A while ago, however, Republican lawyers reportedly challenged in court the counting of absentee ballots in some key Democratic-leaning districts. Read the details in the news pages.

These are some of the side issues better addressed by the major players. How America will rise above the smoldering post-voting scenario, and return to normalcy, rests largely on the maturity and patriotism of President Trump and former Vice President Biden.

The two gentlemen must also join hands in helping the nation survive the pandemic that has complicated the presidential election after Trump took the scourge lightly as a minor malady like the seasonal flu.

The coronavirus has infected more than 9,630,000 Americans and killed at least 237,800, and counting. It has wiped out millions of jobs and caused a deep depression before the economy managed a 33.1-percent rebound in the third quarter.

We think Trump has more reason than Biden to be worried about how the election goes. Biden could walk away more readily from a debacle at the polls than Trump.

Losing the presidency would strip Trump of executive privilege, especially his claimed immunity from suits. We can almost see the slew of charges, including some related to taxes, that could be thrown at him once he is no longer the president.

Such potential cases could adversely affect not only him but also the business empire bearing his family name, especially if there is proof of his participation in its operations.

As we write this Tuesday afternoon, there is no overall trend yet. There are many small communities where the tally has been completed, but they do not count much in the scramble for a majority of 270 votes in the 538-member Electoral College that elects the president. See: https://tinyurl.com/y6qewtch

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 5, 2020)

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