We are saddened by the turn of political events in the US days before the inauguration of former Vice President Joe Biden as president on January 20, three days from now.
The intensity of the venomous atmosphere, violent protests and clashes, and the deep division and discord following the presidential elections are unprecedented in America’s recent history. And they are disturbing.
Last Thursday (Wednesday in the US), the House of Representatives, voting 232-197, impeached President Donald Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection,” following the storming by the Trump supporters of the US Capitol causing damage, bloodshed, and death of five people including a police officer.
It is the first time that a US president has been impeached twice and, interestingly, the second one just a few days before he steps out of the Oval Office. President Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress which were, however, dismissed by the Senate.
We doubt if the current impeachment complaint would be tackled in the Senate considering the time constraint, not to mention that the upper chamber is controlled by the Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly rejected calls to convene the Senate in emergency session to deliberate on Trump’s impeachment.
Earlier, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned of possible uprisings throughout the 50 states of the US during Biden’s inauguration on January 20, a few days from now. We believe though that the US security forces can safeguard Biden’s inauguration. The FBI disclosure, however, reflects the dangerous political acrimony in America today.
Sadly, these events are happening in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic of which the US is still the epicenter, with infections and deaths continuously rising,and its economy on the downturn.
President-elect Biden will step into the Oval Office amid a profoundly divided American nation, with many Trump supporters immensely hostile to him and can be aggravated by the Trump impeachment trial.
Biden’s first order of business as president, apparently, will be national healing and reconciliation. It will surely be difficult for him and the US to effectively reach out to other nations and address the lingering tensions and conflicts in the international community, of which American interests are directly and/or indirectly at stake, if American society is balkanized.
The whole world is watching as events lead to Biden’s inauguration and then his first one hundred days in the White House unfold.
In the meantime, we in the 350-member International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and VicePresident-elect Kamala Harris on their electoral victory and wish them all the best as they lead the American people, and the world, in confronting the issues and challenges besetting the US and the international community.
The Duterte administration’s announcement of the arrival early next month of COVID-19 vaccines and the subsequent mass vaccination of Filipinos especially the frontliners and the elderly seems to be the silver lining in the dark coronavirus cloud that has been hovering above our country since March last year.
Indeed the year 2020 was a year of unprecedented uncertainty and struggle in the world, especially in our country, which was battered by the Taal volcano eruption, earthquakes, successive typhoons, and, of course, the COVID-19 plague which has claimed thousands of lives, put many of our countrymen our of jobs and livelihoods, and shattered our economy.
We ourself lost relatives and friends to the deadly pandemic, the latest of whom were our brother-in-law Bonifacio “Boy” Nakpil, husband of Betchay Vera-Perez Nakpil, younger sister of our wife Gina, and our friend, columnist Domini Torrevillas.
Boy Nakpil, who served as our special adviser when we were speaker of the House, was claimed by COVID-19, sadly, on December 26, our birthday. Our wife Gina told us that our birthday celebration from now on will be bittersweet as it will also mark Boy’s death anniversary.
We also wish to express in this column our sympathies and prayers to our old friend, the respected tireless advocate of Mindanao peace and development Saeed Daof and the Torrevillas family on the passing of our dear friend Domini Torrevillas.
Domini, a veteran journalist and respected columnist in the Philippine Star, passed away last December 28. She also previously worked as editor of Panorama magazine, a sister publication of this paper, the Manila Bulletin.
Domini was such a gentle, soft-spoken and humble lady, loyal friend and supporter, and a journalist-columnist of utmost integrity and competence. She will surely be missed.