Biden, Trump and Rolly

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

Tadhana or destiny is what Biden had all along as he swam the rough seas of the 59th United States presidential elections last week, Nov. 3. Now the question is, do the Americans really believe in Biden or were they just fed up with Trump? The same scenario may happen to us in 2022. Abangan!

Yes! People power struck the United States presidential race last week. It was the first time in history for the US polls to reach more than 150 million voters despite the coronavirus pandemic. The younger generation dominated the votes for Biden while the older ones went for Trump. With a population of 328.2 million, the expected number of voters was 150 million compared to the 2016 election turnout of 138 million. 

News outfits have been analyzing all votes coming from different states, showing a very close fight between Biden and Trump. The votes also clearly showed how divided America is today.

Over the weekend, Biden couldn’t call the race a victory because of the confirmation of mailed-in ballots which gave the counting of the votes major problems, showing discrepancies and alleged fraud (i.e. lost ballots, mysteriously produced ballots, voter coercion, etc.) which were raised by Trump’s camp. So, this counting may go on until this week or even months due to litigations that must be resolved. But if the Supreme Court confirms a win for Biden, then America will have a new president. Whether Trump or Biden wins, the Senate will clearly remain Republican while Congress will continue to be Democrat. 

It is evident that Biden has restored the ‘Blue Wall’ with wins in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that Clinton lost in 2016. Ironically, Biden potentially will end with the same number of Electoral College votes (306) that Trump got in 2016 – a margin that was viewed as narrow. The Democrats lost six House of Representative seats, when they were expecting to expand their majority. At this time, they are not assured of a majority in the Senate. Polls that suggested a Democrat win in the 3rd largest state Florida did not happen. Instead, the Republicans got unexpectedly large support from a voting block that is expected to vote Democrat (the Cuban and Venezuelan immigrant communities) to win Florida.

Biden is close to victory.  If Biden wins, Trump’s presidency will end with much chaos and controversy. At this time, there does not appear to be a chance that a concession speech will be made – a tradition since 1896 that has overcome such bitter electoral contests, and a signal to the country that the time to work together for the common good (at least as long as the traditional 100 day ‘honeymoon’ period) needs to start.

The close nature of the 2020 election indicates that the US continues to be divided. It will be interesting to see the four-year results of a ‘moderate’ Biden administration. Will it be able to narrow the divide? The presumptive president in 2021 faces the problems of uniting the country, healing the wounds of this election, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and generating the revenue to pay for the massive government stimulus to fend off the economic problems caused by the ongoing pandemic.

The 46th president of the US will need to heal, unite and rebuild the country. The new president and vice president will be elected to office at the worst and best possible time. Worst because aside from inheriting the foreseen COVID-19 darkest winter, they will have to deal with the shadow and residual of Trump, who will refuse to concede no matter what. It is also possible that Trump will fight to the end and question all the questionable, leading and stirring more violence that can lead to civil unrest or civil war.

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A latest report from the Philippine News Agency showed that damage to infrastructure and agriculture caused by Super Typhoon Rolly has now climbed to more than P14 billion. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad said damage to infrastructure was estimated at P11,228,895,685 in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the National Capital Region (NCR).

Damage to agriculture in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Eastern Visayas and the NCR was placed at P2,924,837,533. Houses damaged by the typhoon was placed at 53,747 with 12,659 classified as totally damaged and 41,088 as partially damaged.

The number of families affected by Rolly was placed at 312,583, or equivalent to 1,197,888 persons all residing in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol, CAR and the NCR. Of this number, 44,524 families or 171, 531 individuals are still inside and outside evacuation centers.

The number of deaths being validated by the NDRRMC is now at 22, with 165 injured and three missing in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol.

Latest reports from the NDRRMC showed that Typhoon Quinta left at least P2.603 billion worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure, while Rolly caused P14.153-billion damage or a total of P16.756 billion for the two typhoons. These amounts do not include the costs of damaged houses. In Bicol alone the Office of Civil Defense reported that 160,559 houses were either damaged or completely destroyed while some 86,536 more houses were damaged or destroyed in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol and some parts of the Visayas at the height of Quinta, which came a week earlier.

The NDRRMC has recommended that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and National Housing Authority standardize the emergency shelter assistance where beneficiaries would receive financial assistance for the repair of houses. It also plans to expand the current Philippine Humanitarian Assistance Registry to record and monitor donations for other disasters.

With regard to the depleted local disaster risk reduction and management funds, the Department of the Interior and Local Government was tasked to submit to the NDRRMC an update of the status of the LDRRMF of LGUs and recommend possible augmentation of their quick response funds.

With the need of funds for all these disasters, not to mention funds needed for COVID-19 response, is there any money left in the kaban ng bayan?

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