PH wants to ensure US relations 'strong' after Biden victory: envoy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2020 10:34 AM | Updated as of Nov 09 2020 10:38 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden for winning the White House race. Presidential Photo and Reuters

MANILA - The Philippines wants to make sure its bilateral relations with the US is strong following the election of Democrat Joe Biden as president, Manila's envoy in Washington said Monday.

Majority or 60 percent of some 2 million Filipino-Americans voters chose Obama's former vice president Biden in the White House race, according to Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

Most were probably from California, one of the biggest Filipino communities and a Democrat bailiwick, he said. Some Filipinos in the northeast and south of US voted for former President Donald Trump, he added.

Romualdez had warned about "a number of people who will try to take advantage of the situation and will try to put a wedge" between Biden and President Rodrigo Duterte.

"You know this is not a personal type of situation. It is the overall that is important. I think that those who are trying to intrigue they have their own agenda. It is not good for the Philippines to have major issues and problems that could affect us," he told ANC's Headstart.

"We wanna make sure that relationship (with the US) is strong and all of the recognitions we have is there in place."

Malacañang earlier said Duterte can "establish an equally warm personal relations with whoever wins" the election, saying the Philippine leader only needed "a year or two" to establish ties with Trump.

Issues about human rights and freedom of the press can "very well be resolved by simply a dialogue and explaining what were doing as far as those issues are concerned," Romualdez said.

Trump last year signed a law which included an amendment authorizing the US secretary of state to bar Filipinos behind Sen. Leila de Lima’s detention from stepping on US soil.

The US Senate, of which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was a member, earlier this year passed a resolution urging Trump to impose sanctions on the same Philippine officials behind De Lima's detention.

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As for the issue of immigration, there are currently some 350,000 pending deportation cases against Filipinos, Romualdez said. 

Biden is expected to reverse much of Trump's immigration legacy and will seek a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally, a campaign official told Reuters.

The US Supreme Court had rejected Trump's bid to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants or "Dreamers" who entered the United States illegally as children.

"I think it’s a positive move on the part of the new administration. The immigration policy of US, the effect has been not as good as we had hope it would be. There are 350,000 pending deportation cases (against Filipinos) that are now being heard in the courts," Romualdez said.

"We’re trying to help them in every way we can but we tell them if you’re here illegally and there’s no way out, it is best for you to voluntarily leave rather than be deported. The minute you’re deported you will most likely not get a visa in the next 10 years or more."

Romualdez said there were "more deportations during the time of (President Barack) Obama rather than during this time." Obama had served for 2 terms or 8 years versus Trump's 4 years.