Three issues for the next US and Phl presidents

The Freeman

2016 is a very significant year. Both countries - the Philippines and the United States - are in the process of nominating and electing its own president. The last year that these two countries held a presidential election in the same year was in 2004 when Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and George W. Bush were elected into office. The world has rapidly changed since then. In 2008, America has suffered its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, global terrorism is challenging the world order and the Philippines, arguably is on the economic rise, yet poverty is still one of its biggest conundrums.

There are three major issues that we ought to pay particular attention to as it relates to who the next presidents are in these two countries. First is immigration. As it stands now, the Democratic Party supports a comprehensive immigration reform that includes, among others, a pathway for citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants presently living and working in the United States. On the other hand, Republicans believe that immigrants who are in the US illegally should not be provided with the same benefits that legal citizens have. For them, an amnesty like the Democrats propose, only encourages future immigrants to enter the US illegally and easily get away with it. While there are measures that both parties agree on such as the need for immigration reform, better border security and enhanced immigration law enforcement, it is the "amnesty" issue that they largely differ. The next president of the United States, along with Congress, has to act together on how to institute a real and comprehensive immigration reform. In the meantime, the estimated 300,000 or so undocumented Filipino immigrants are prayerfully hoping a pathway for them to be legalized. As the fourth largest immigrant population in the US, the Filipino immigrant community is closely following this election as to which candidate offers the best solution to the illegal immigration problem. The next president of the Philippines has to vigorously work with the US government in ensuring the rights and welfare of these undocumented Filipino immigrants. Whatever provisions of the new, overhauled immigration law might be as it affects immigrants, be it deportation or legalization, protections for this vulnerable segment of the Filipino immigrant community must be one of the priorities of the incoming administration.

The next issue is the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. This trade agreement involving countries in the Pacific region covers economic policies as it relates to substantially all trade in goods and services, market access, job creation and investment opportunities and other matters of inter-country trade. Currently, the US Congress which has the authority to approve this kind of agreement has not yet voted and may have to act on it well after the 2016 elections. Republican candidates are unanimously opposed to this deal while the Democrats have yet to announce their full and unequivocal support. As of 2010, the Philippines has already signified its interest in becoming a part of this trade agreement. Presently, majority of the voters do not know where Poe, Roxas, Duterte, or Santiago stand on this very important issue. It would be very enlightening to know their positions and how their views enhance the interests of the Filipino people on this economic deal.

The third issue concerns the territorial integrity of the Philippines. We know how China has deliberately violated international law and agreements as it relates to the Spratly Islands. Its belligerent and hostile behavior in these disputed islands by reclamation and construction of facilities, airstrip and lighthouses and preventing Filipino fishermen from undertaking fishing activities despite an ongoing legal proceeding before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The US has remained firm in its concerned on China's hostile activities which in the US government's view could have the potential to disrupt regional security. It is widely hoped that whoever the next US president may be, he or she would be consistent in sharing this concern and continue to uphold its commitment to the territorial security of the Philippines. The recent decision by the Philippine Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the US and the Philippines as constitutional would prove to be very crucial in attaining at least a sense of balance of power in this part of the West Philippine Sea.

As these elections are only months away, we can only hope that whoever emerges as the next president of the USA and the Philippines , he or she would have the vision, leadership and values commensurate to the seriousness of these challenges.

Next issue, I will answer the immigration questions I received from the readers of this column.

Pit Senyor !


This column is not a substitute for professional legal advice obtained from a US licensed immigration attorney. The information contained herein does not constitute a warranty or guarantee or legal advice regarding a reader's specific immigration case. No attorney-client relationship is and shall be established with any reader.

For any questions, comments and observations, please contact Atty. Marco Tomakin at [email protected]

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