MANILA, Philippines – US President Barack Obama’s reelection drew a mix of messages from Filipino leaders ranging from the customary congratulatory ones to “let’s not meddle.”
President Benigno Aquino III congratulated Obama by sending a letter to the White House. Malacañang said that Aquino told Obama that the Philippines looks forward to deepening ties with the US “as a treaty ally and strategic partner.”
“The President of the Philippines recalled how 4 years ago, President Obama’s message of hope resonated with the American people and the world, marking the beginning of the long road back for one of the world’s greatest countries.”
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Aquino wrote that in electing Obama, Americans trusted him to stay the course, and to continue harnessing their voices and ideas.
“The President also wrote that in their encounters, it has been easy for the presidents of both nations to understand each other given the common set of aspirations they have for their respective peoples – inclusive growth and renewed prosperity,” Lacierda said.
High Fil-Am voter turnout
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines welcomes the successful conduct of the American elections.
In a statement on Wednesday, November 7, the DFA said the Philippines and the US share democratic values like people’s right to freely choose leaders.
“We are particularly gladdened by the high voter turnout of Filipino-Americans, and the increasingly active role they play in helping decide the future of the United States.”
See our infographic on Filipinos and the US elections here.
Obama’s victory means his foreign policy will continue for 4 more years. In his first term, the Obama administration pushed for the so-called “pivot” to Asia, a renewed focus on the region along with a promise to deploy 60% of US naval assets to the Asia-Pacific by 2020.
“We look forward to continue working with the administration of President Obama in strengthening relations between our countries and in the promotion of peace and progress in our region and the world,” the DFA said.
Before the US elections, Malacañang said President Aquino's administration is ready to work with whoever will be the winner.
“We would expect that the current thrust of US-Philippines defense cooperation would remain essentially unchanged regardless of whether Mr Obama or Mr Romney would win the election,” said Palace Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang on November 5.
In congratulating Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay also said he does not believe that the direction of Philippine-American relations will change in the next 4 years.
“I am fully confident that the warm and productive relations between the Philippines and the United States will continue, and matters of mutual interest will be pursued under the same atmosphere of trust and friendship that has characterized our relations for decades,” Binay said in a statement.
‘Treaties, not polls, determine US-PH ties’
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was not as celebratory in discussing the US polls in an interview with reporters.
Asked if he had a preferred candidate, Enrile said, “Alam mo, huwag nating pakikialaman ‘yung eleksyon ng ibang bansa. Ayaw nating makikialam sila sa eleksyon natin,” Enrile said before Obama’s victory was announced. (You know, let us not meddle with other countries’ elections. We do no want them to meddle with ours.)
Regardless of the winner, Enrile also said Philippine and American ties will remain the same.
“Pareho lang. Mayroon tayong kasunduan. ‘Yun ang batayan ng ating diplomatic relations sa Amerika.” (It’s the same. We have agreements. Those are the basis of our diplomatic relations with America.)
The Philippines and the US signed a Mutual Defense Treaty requiring both sides to support each other in the event of an attack by an external party.
In the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China, the US has made it clear that it is not taking sides. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton though urged Southeast Asian nations to work together to resolve territorial rows with China in the South China Sea.
Clinton has also called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China to finalize a comprehensive code of conduct to ensure the peaceful resolution of the dispute.
China in contrast prefers a bilateral approach, and has criticized US intervention in the issue.
Like Enrile, Sen Francis Pangilinan said the outcome of the US elections will not make a major dent on Philippine-American relations.
Pangilinan tweeted, “Obama man o Romney, interes nila at di natin, ang itutulak nila.” (Whether it’s Obama or Romney, it’s their interest and not ours that they will push for.) – Rappler.com