Global, regional, domestic, political realignments in 2024

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Filipinos should be alert this year. The 2024 US presidential polls shall affect the Philippines. It has been said that when America sneezes, the Philippines catches a cold. The Democrats are pro-immigration, pro-labor, and are more supportive of emerging economies. The Republicans are anti-immigration, pro-business, and don’t care much about third-world countries.

If Democrats win, Filipinos can be assured of more stability in the Asia-Pacific with the US maintaining the balance of power in the region. If Republicans prevail, there shall be disruptive changes in Asia as Trump's foreign policies don’t consider the Asia-Pacific as central to their overall global strategies. Surveys show Americans are dissatisfied with Biden's handling of the economy and, even if they don’t like Trump personally, the US economy grew and stabilized during his presidency. There’s a likely shift in American policies towards the Philippines, if Biden leaves the White House. Fil-Ams who are permanent US residents and citizens will also be impacted if Trump wins.

We should also closely watch the elections in India, considering that the bulk of our rice importation just shifted to them. We should always take note that our traditional sources, Thailand and Vietnam, have focused on assuring their own people of a steady rice supply given the projected food crisis due to climate change. General elections are expected to be held in India between April and May 2024. As this is a general election, seat totals aren’t determined proportional to each party's total vote share, but instead by plurality in each constituency. If the current government led by Prime Minister Modi prevails, the Philippines can be better assured of rice supply.

Indonesia is the Philippines' best friend in ASEAN and in Asia's southeastern sub-region. In case of an oil crisis, we can always run to Jakarta to tide us over. Indonesia has always voted with the Philippines in major international conferences. We can always rely on Indonesia to support our positions in the West Philippine Sea. Although Indonesia has adverse claims over certain areas in the South China Sea too, its leaders have always acted reasonably and even amicably in their interactions with our diplomats. With diplomatic interventions by former presidents PNoy, Duterte, and PBBM, the execution of Maryjane Veloso, a Filipino drug convict detained in Yogyakarta, has always been postponed indefinitely due to the presidential clemency extended by President Joko Widodo. But Widodo's presidency is about to end and he isn’t eligible for a third term.

The European Union Parliament elections are going to be held from June 6 to 9 this year. This will be the tenth elections since 1979 and the first after Brexit. This term's election is expected to be one of the more contentious elections in EU Parliament history given the rise of far-right parties. The results are bound to create some socio-economic and political repercussions to the Philippines, especially in trade and global chain policies and policy decisions by EU member states relative to commerce, tourism, shipping, and the future of our almost a million seafarers. These elections are also going to determine immigration and labor migration policies and shall impact on millions of OFWs in Europe.

June this year is a very political month. While the EU parliament holds its polls from June 6 to 9, Mexico will have its general elections on June 2. Mexican voters will elect a new president as well as all the 500 members of its Lower House, the Chamber of Deputies, simultaneously with 120 members of its Upper House, the Senate of the Republic. The legislators to be elected this year shall be the first group to be allowed to run for reelection under the new amended Constitution. The RP-Mexico diplomatic and trade relations had always been pleasant and mutually beneficial. We also share centuries of trade since the days of the galleons in the early 18th and 19th centuries. Today, trade between us is robust but consisting mostly of Mexican exports to the Philippines. The results of this year's elections will have a bearing on balancing these trade exchanges.

The Philippines is interlinked with all nations in the world. Any political disruption and change in those countries shall definitely create far-reaching consequences to our own politics, national security, trade, commerce, and economy. This year, our foreign policies should be reshaped to better advance our national interests and the well-being of our people. Our leaders should be more alert, adept, and strategic so that we shall not be left behind in global developments.

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