Philippine Elections Preview: Perspectives on the Campaign and the Future of US-PH Bilateral Relations
On May 9, the Philippines will elect over 18,000 political positions including a new president and vice-president, half of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives. During a May 5 online forum, “What the May 9th Election Means for the Philippines and the U.S. Role in Southeast Asia,” expert panelists Richard Heydarian, Sam Chittick and Lisa Curtis offered valuable insights on the leadership style of top candidates, the campaign and recommendations for strengthening the US-PH bilateral relationship under a new Philippine government. Southeast Asia Forum Chair William Wise moderated the discussion and US-Philippines Society Founding Director Henry B. Howard gave concluding remarks.
Academician and author Richard Heydarian described how the tandem Ferdinand Marcos, Jr for president and Sara Duterte for vice-president has formed a strong alliance at the start of the campaign in contrast to a volunteer-driven campaign led by Vice President Leni Robredo who received major endorsements from catholic priests, artists, and other influencers in April and May. In its last survey (April 16-21), Pulse Asia gave Marcos-Duterte in the mid-50 percent votes and Vice President Robredo with 23 percent.
Asia Foundation Country Representative Sam Chittick described the importance of the election outcome in setting “policy choices for relations with other countries for how the country is perceived internationally. He also added, “but probably most important for most voters is the impact on their lives. In a country that has at the moment officially around 24% poverty and around another 20% that are hovering just above the poverty level.”
CNAS Director for Indo-Pacific Security Lisa Curtis provided a Washington view noting that the Philippine elections provide an opportunity for the Biden administration and Washington to build a firmer foundation for the alliance, avoid disruptions seen in the past, and nurture all aspects of the relationship.
Representing the US-Philippines Society, Founding Director Henry B. Howard offered his views on the progress in the implementation of EDCA. He also cautioned the audience to look into the ethno-linguistic aspects of the voting population which may not be fairly represented in the polls.
Howard and other panelists underlined the importance of a shared responsibility by the incoming Philippine administration and Washington to pursue policies that will sustain mutually beneficial bilateral ties going forward.
The Society extends appreciation to the esteemed panelists, participants, and members who made this timely preview of the elections possible. The event was co-sponsored by the US-Philippines Society and Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Forum.
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