By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Hanah Tabios, and Ellson Quismorio
Malacañang is looking forward to working with the administration of United States president-elect Joe Biden.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque extended President Duterte’s well-wishes for the 77-year-old Biden, the oldest elected president of the United States.
“On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to former Vice President Joseph “Joe” Biden on his election as the new president of the United States of America,” he said.
“Congratulations and we wish him all the best,” he added.
According to Roque, the Philippines is committed to working together with Biden’s administration to further enhance the country’s ties with the US.
“The Philippines and the United States have long-standing bilateral relations and we are committed to further enhancing the relations with the United States under the Biden administration,” he said.
“We look forward to working closely with the new administration of president-elect Biden anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law,” he added.
Vice President Leni Robredo also sent her congratulations to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris yesterday.
In a tweet, the country’s second highest official described Biden and Harris’ election victory as “an affirmation of the shared ideals” on which the Philippines and the USA stand.
Robredo highlighted the importance of democracy, civil rights, faith, and inclusivity in governing one’s country.
“I pray for your success,” she said.
Good for Pinoy migrant workers
The incoming administration of Biden will result in an American environment that’s “more welcoming” to Filipino migrant workers.
Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel said: “There’s no question the anti-immigration policies of the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump made it more difficult for many foreigners, including Filipinos, to participate in America’s labor markets through all sorts of visa restrictions,” Pimentel said.
“In contrast, we are hoping that the Biden administration will be more receptive to Filipino workers,” added the House of Representatives official.
“We are hoping that under Biden, the Philippines will soon be returned to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to receive H-2A and H-2B visas,” the Mindanaon noted.
Under Trump, the United States Department of Homeland Security imposed a one-year ban on the issuance of new H-2A and H-2B visas to Filipinos from Jan. 19, 2019 to Jan. 18, 2020, citing overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
Shortly before the ban expired, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Jan. 16, 2020 a new list of countries whose nationals are eligible to receive H-2A and H-2B visas in 2020.
The list excludes the Philippines, thus effectively prolonging the ban against temporary Filipino workers until yearend.
The ban has stopped the hiring of new workers from the Philippines, mostly for non-farm temporary jobs in construction, hotels, and resorts in America.
The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow US employers or US agents to bring foreign nationals to America to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively.