Trump immigration policy no effect on Pinoys if Duterte stays tame
Filipinos living in the United States will not be affected by US Pres. Donald Trump's controversial immigration policies as long as Pres. Rodrigo Duterte does not comment on topics sensitive to the new US administration.
"I don't think the Philippine-US relations under Trump ... has been damaged.... As long as Digong [Duterte] doesn't touch sensitive matters like the JUSMAG (Joint US Military Advisory Group)," said Epifanio San Juan Jr., a professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Washington State University, and University of Connecticut.
An international civic intellectual and literary academic based in the US, San Juan pointed out that the US will not interfere in [Philippine affairs] should Duterte allow the continuation of the JUSMAG.
He made the remark in last Tuesday's University of the Philippines-Diliman forum that tackled Trump's immigration policy, women's protests versus Trump, and the progressive movement in the US.
JUSMAG was created in 1947 to install a permanent council of military advisers from the US "to advise and assist the AFP–"train and equip requirements" included.
The US needs JUSMAG and other military provisions to stay in place to allow the country to monitor China, its stiff economic competitor, San Juan said.
"Under JUSMAG, the United States supervises the AFP in logistics and training, among others. There is no country in the world that claims to be independent and allows a foreign state to interfere in its military, except the Philippines," he added.
"As long as that is not damaged, and the US Pacific fleet patrols the South China Sea, there are no reasons to ban Filipinos from the United States."
Meanwhile, he said that there is no immediate fear in this as Duterte maintains a hands-off stance on other military agreements despite his supposed anti-US stance.
"There is no sign that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) has been touched at all despite Duterte's so-called anti-American pronouncements earlier.... As far as I know, there has been no sign from Trump that Filipinos will be particularly punished," he said.
Voting against interest
In the same UP-Diliman froum, Prof. Delia Aguilar of the University of Connecticut said that Filipinos are the largest Asian-American group in the US who voted for Trump, despite his strong anti-immigrant policies.
"People sometimes vote against their own self-interest. As I mentioned, the largest percentage of Asian-Americans who voted for Trump, and the Asian country that showed the greatest support for [him] was, number one, the Philippines, and number two, Vietnam."
While Filipinos are unaffected now and Trump's move to ban people coming from Muslim-populated countries has been temporarily put off track, the US president's revisions to the executive order may finally put them in a tricky spot, she added.
"He's simply revamping, I would guess, a similarly horrible immigration policy, which doesn't bode well for Filipinos at all."
On the other hand, San Juan said that the next four years will be difficult to predict as Republicans and Democrats are headed by elites who seek to maintain the US' supremacy through different methodologies.
"These are contradictions that will play out. It's one wing of the ruling class versus another wing, in terms of how to deal with the problem of how to repair US hegemony in the world.... Four years from now, they'll probably vote democratic again. It's hard to say."
Aguilar said, "The main recruiter for the progressive movement is Trump. I can tell you, none of this would have happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected. Business would go on as usual." —LBG, GMA News