Senators expect “fine-tuning” of US relations with PH, Asian countries

Published November 6, 2020, 3:03 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

At least two senators on Friday have expressed hope that the next leader of the United States would be able to fine-tune its bilateral relations with the Philippines and other Asian countries in the next few years.

Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Senator Richard Gordon said he believes the next president, which he thinks would be former Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr. would still maintain the current Trump administration’s policy on Asia and the Pacific.

“They’re consistent with their policy, especially (former president Barack) Obama. He made a pivot to the Asia and the Pacific. I expect Biden to follow that which Trump did effectively,” Gordon said in an online interview with reporters.

Gordon said US incumbent president Donald Trump “is not exactly a bad president” since he visited Asia several times “which was not done by other presidents.”

“I hope Biden will take note that that’s important,” Gordon stressed.

It would be good, however, for the Philippines to take advantage of its rich history with the US because it is clear, the country “needs their support, security-wise.”

Gordon said he is certain that the US government will not change its foreign policy just because they changed leadership: “They’ll probably fine-tune it.”

“What I’d like us to do is to…engage with them. We have to engage with them. We should take advantage of our history with them. Right now, Vietnam is taking advantage, while we are not…but our national interest should be more important,” he noted.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said she hopes the US will serve as a countervailing force against China’s incursions in the Asia Pacific region.

“As an advocate of an independent and interdependent foreign policy and as a believer in multilateralism as a course of action, I hope for the US to serve as a countervailing force against China’s incursions in the Asia Pacific region,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“I hope that it honors its commitments to contribute to a balance of power in the area, as China continues to cast a long shadow over our contested waters,” she reiterated.

Should Biden win, Hontiveros said she expects America to affirm the Philippines’ 2016 Arbitral Tribunal victory over the West Philippine Sea.

“And it must concurrently engage with other nations in the Indo-Pacific for the purpose of maintaining stability and a rules-based order, especially when it comes to disputes involving our territories,” she said.

“More crucially, a Biden win may mean stronger multilateral cooperation — from crafting trade policies to upholding basic human rights — as his potential victory does signal a rejection of populist arrogance that has been facilitated by fear-mongering and fake news,” added the senator.

Hontiveros said this repudiation indicates a shift toward fundamentally preserving democracy, “one that can push back against deliberate disinformation campaigns, divisiveness, and hate.”

“I hope this shift reflects not only in America but also in the future of the Philippines,” she said.