The USA under Biden

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Us observers thousands of miles away from the United States were on tenterhooks as votes for the presidential candidates were being counted.

I admit I was/am for the Democrat candidate Joseph “Joe” R. Biden Jr. as well as for his runningmate Kamala Harris. So the news that Biden had won was cause for great rejoicing. We joined the millions upon millions of Americans shown on cable news dancing and singing in glee and drinking champagne to celebrate Biden’s victory. As compiled by TV networks, Biden had won 75,215,431 popular votes, entitling him to 290 electoral votes or 20 more than the 270 electoral votes required to win the election, while his opponent, Republican “defending”champion Donald Trump, garnered 70,812,515 popular votes, resulting only in 214 electoral votes.

With the publicized results of the election, the expected dramatic histrionics of the current President Trump went into play. He will not concede, he announced and, continuing his previous proclamations, he will not leave the White House. What a clown. His supporters are religiously behind him, not surprisingly, and they voice their unbelief, and criticism of Biden in tweets and other media devices.

The Times has printed the 17-minute address of Biden for the first time as president-elect. His calm posture, his call for unity, are reasons which we,  his long-distance admirers, are glad he is the newly-elected 46th president of America. Here are some quotes from his speech:

“Let us be the nation that we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed…

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me.

“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify… who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.

“And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.

“For that is what America is about: the people.

“And that is what our administration will be about.

“I sought this office to restore the soul of America.”

*      *      *

CNN’s Stephen Collinson and Caitlin Hu describe what Trump’s defeat means in an article titled “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end.” Here is their prognosis:

“Presidential attacks on democratic institutions, science and the vulnerable, including immigrants and religious minorities, will stop. The White House will stop being the country’s biggest source of lies. America will no longer have a president who uses division as an instrument of power. Governance and foreign policy will not be made by tweet. Biden has already announced a task force to fight the worsening pandemic. And the burden of Trump’s racial fear-mongering will be lifted from Americans of color.

“Trump’s demagogic presidency will become an aberration in American history, rather than a new foundation that affronts the country’s bedrock values. Fears that a second Trump term would destroy NATO and buckle America’s role as an exemplar of democratic values will not materialize, however treacherous the world remains. The US will try to do something about a warming planet. Trump’s defeat caused relief abroad, where the lives of people who have no capacity to influence American power are shaped by the behemoth between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”

As of this writing, Trump and his fellow Republicans are going to the courts to deny Biden’s victory and his swearing in to the presidency in January.

The Atlantic carries an article by Anne Applebaum titled “Trump won’t accept defeat. Ever.”

Let’s stay glued to our TV sets for what happens.

*      *      *

President Duterte’s reference to the Philippine Red Cross as “mukhang pera” for the humanitarian organization’s insistence that PhilHealth, the state health ensurer, pay PRC its debt incurred in the COVID-19 testing of PhilHealth-dependent individuals costing millions of pesos notwithstanding, PRC went into action extending assistance to victims of Typhoon Rolly in Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay and other affected areas.

Sen. Richard Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, had responded that he was not offended by the remark, but “I think the President should really be careful. Sometimes he is not aware that his statement is not really presidential.”

True to the PRC motto “Always First, Always Ready, Always There,” teams and volunteers have been providing the affected families in dire need of assistance, based on the assessment of PRC teams on the ground.

“We have made an assessment of their primary needs and we provide that. It is our mission to alleviate human suffering and uplift human dignity, that is why we will help them rebuild their lives. We want to help them get back on their feet faster,” Gordon said.

During the height of Rolly’s onslaught, PRC conducted search and rescue operations as well as attended to the wounded. Psychosocial assistance was also provided by tracing relatives who got separated. It provided hot meals to almost 11,000 individuals, and distributed non-food items as part of its relief distribution operations. In Albay and Catanduanes, some 173 families were initially provided with tarpaulins, jerry cans, hygiene kits and sleeping kits. NFIs were also distributed in Sorsogon.

In Catanduanes, the PRC chapter provided the only form of communication after the typhoon through its satellite phone. In areas where power lines were damaged, generator sets were sent to ensure unhampered delivery of service. Also deployed were water tankers and LMS (water purification system) to ensure sufficient potable water supply in areas where water access has been rendered limited, such as Catanduanes and Albay. Water treatment units were also installed. GI sheets were distributed to families with partially damaged houses.

Also established were health/first aid stations in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of not only COVID-19, but also other diseases, Gordon said. “We will also further assess sanitation needs in the affected communities and evacuation centers. We can provide portable comfort rooms and shower rooms, in areas where they are needed,” he added.

*      *      *

Rep. Juliette Uy urges concerned government agencies “to address the policy gaps in waste management that make the country a ‘foreigners’ dumping ground’.”

The Misamis Oriental representative says companies abroad who dump their garbage in the Philippines have local collaborators “who take advantage of procedural and discretionary loopholes in waste recycling regulations, as well as waste-to-energy policies.”

“The collaborators are able to import the garbage and are complicit in making our country the foreigners’ dumping ground because they take advantage of government regulations and loopholes,” Uy says. “I strongly urge the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Bureau of Customs and Department of Trade and Industry to review the laws and regulations these importers are taking advantage of.”

Uy warns that others may just use the garbage as a “disguise or cover to import other contraband like illegal drugs.”

“The foreign companies and the importers cannot possibly carry out their schemes without the collaboration of insiders,” she says. “Careful scrutiny of the documents could lead to the discovery of patterns like money trail, signatories, date and time stamps, favorite freight forwarders and other indicators of modus operandi.”

In this connection she has filed House Bill No. 3461, which bans import of waste products, as well as the export of local waste materials to other countries. The imported and exported waste by products consist of organic or inorganic materials whether solid, liquid, liquefied, gaseous or a mixture of substances. The products smuggled into the country shall not be offloaded from any transport vessel and shall be immediately ordered by port authorities to depart from the port and return the illegal cargo to its port of origin, with all costs borne by the shipper.

*      *      *

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

JOE BIDEN US
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