Duterte, Robredo congratulate Biden, Harris

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  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo led Filipino officials in congratulating Democrat Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election as president and vice president of the United States.

    Biden is poised to become the 46th president of the U.S. after gaining more than the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the White House.

    His rival, incumbent President Donald Trump, had 214 Electoral College votes as of a recent count.

    “The Philippines and the United States have long-standing bilateral relations and we are committed to further enhancing the relations with the United States under the Biden administration,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on November 8.

    Roque said the administration is looking forward to working with Biden in a relationship “anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law.”

    Robredo also extended on November 8 her congratulations to Biden and Harris.

    “Your victory is an affirmation of the shared ideals on which the long friendship between our two nations stand: democracy, civil rights, faith, and inclusivity. I pray for your success,” Robredo said in a post on Twitter, tagging Biden and Harris.

    The U.S. is one of the Philippines’ largest trade partners, export markets and sources of investment.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines would have to wait and see how the Biden administration would handle certain matters like the West Philippine Sea issue.

    Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has consistently invoked freedom of navigation in the South China Sea where its military vessels conduct visits and patrols.

    The U.S. has also repeatedly assured its treaty ally the Philippines that it will honor the Mutual Defense Treaty in case of external aggression.

    Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri congratulated not just Biden but also all Americans for “democracy in your country – a model for many countries including ours to follow.”

    “Biden by the way is a practicing Catholic, only the second Catholic to be elected to the White House. And who carries a (rosary) with him wherever he goes. And that is good enough for me… Peace and (healing) to our (brothers) and (sisters) in the US of A,” Zubiri said in a tweet.

    Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez is “well-positioned for the Biden presidency.”

    Recto expressed confidence that with Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at the helm of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Romualdez in Washington, “what is good for our country in the diplomatic front will always be pursued and protected.”

    “Our man in Washington DC is well-positioned to help steer our country’s interest through whatever changes a Democratic White House would bring to (Philippine)-US relations,” Recto said in a statement.

    Sen. Francis Tolentino, who is allowed to practice law in New York, said Trump’s refusal to concede was probably because he is waiting for a Supreme Court ruling concerning mail-in ballots.

    “Whoever wins will take into consideration the historic bond and friendship between the US and the Philippines,” he said.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they exist, before the 2020 presidential election is certified.

    Trump has not conceded the election and is instead claiming that there has been a widespread, multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to skew the vote tally in Biden’s favor.

    Biden holds a sizable lead in multiple battleground states.

    In a memo to U.S. attorneys, obtained by The Associated Press, Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”

    He said any allegations that would “clearly not impact the outcome of a federal election” should be delayed until after those elections are certified and prosecutors should likely open so-called preliminary inquiries, which would allow investigators and prosecutors to see if there is evidence that would allow them to take further investigative measures.

    States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results.

    Members of the Electoral College meet December 14 to finalize the outcome of the November 3 presidential election.

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