The US in the 2016 Philippines Election

This special feature highlights how the US is discussed by the candidates of the Philippines 2016 Presidential Election, which took place on May 9, 2016.

Explore each candidate's background and experience in the US, as well as his or her positions on US-related issues.

Lead Researcher: Melissa Newcomb

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Jejomar Binay - Overview

Background, US Experience, and Connections

73 years old, Binay's parents were middle-class, a librarian and a school teacher. He was orphaned at the age of 9 and adopted by his uncle, Ponciano Binay. Grew up in poverty and became successful through education. [Source]

In 1967 he graduated with a law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law and graduated. He passed the bar examinations in 1968 and went on to become a human rights lawyer. [

Rodrigo Duterte - Overview

Background, US Experience, and Connections

70 years old, mother was a school teacher, father was a provincial governor. [Source]

Graduated with a BA in 1968 in Political Science at Lyceum of the Philippines and his law degree from San Beda College, passing the bar in 1972.

Duterte is credited for restoring economic prosperity and rule-of-law to Davao City, a large port region of about 1.5 million people which was known for Marxist insurgents and a high homicide rate in the 1980s…

Grace Poe - Overview

Background, US Experience, and Connections

Endorsed by former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. [Source]

47 years old, Poe was found as an infant in a church and adopted by famous actors Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr. She was recently approved to run for President despite unknown origins and family who are US citizens. [Source]

Earned her BA in Political Science from Boston College in 1991, remaining in the US with her husband. They lived predominantly…

Mar Roxas - Overview

Background, US Experience, and Connections

Supported by current President Aquino. [Source]

58 years old, comes from one of the country’s richest families and his grandfather was president of the Philippines in the 1940s. His campaign narrative has been that unlike other candidates (Vice President Binay and Senator Poe) he doesn’t have a dramatic life story but that the election is about the Filipino people. [Source]

In 1979 earned a BA in economics and finance from Wharton School…

Miriam Santiago - Overview

Background, US Experience, and Connections

70 years old, eldest of seven siblings to a father who was a lawyer and a mother who was an educator. [Source]

Known for her intellectual prowess, has a large following among the youth but many are worried that for her health as she is battling cancer. [Source]

Graduated with her BA in Political Science in 1965 and her Bachelor of Law in 1969 from the University of the Philippines. [

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Rodrigo Duterte - EDCA

Duterte has publicly opposed the Visiting Forces Agreement which allows the entry of U.S. troops in the country and once claimed that he rejected the request of the United States to make Davao a center of drone operations in the region. [Source] August 12, 2013

Duterte says that Philippines gave EDCA “for free" and that EDCA does not promise US will come to Philippines’ aid if China attacks them. [Source] March 1, 2016

Duterte has “reservations about the presence of…

Jejomar Binay - Trans-Pacific Partnership

On joining regional trade agreements such as the TPP:“Any move for integration will certainly be beneficial for the Philippines. Considering the integration countries who are enjoying a lot of economic growth will have a lot of benefits. It will be negative for those who are having a problem with their economy.” [Source] Interview with CSIS, May 1st, 2014

“With the looming integration of the ASEAN economies, greater economic engagement with countries in the region becomes a major component of the United States…

Miriam Santiago - EDCA

Drafted a resolution in Senate that EDCA go through Senate review which was approved by 14 Senators, including Grace Poe in November 2015. [Source]

On EDCA and protection from China: “You know, these diplomatic ins and outs are extremely complicated. There is no possible basis for saying it’s simple—let us side with America and it will fight the Chinese for us and that will be over. Of course not, what are you saying?” [Source] November 6, 2015

Jejomar Binay - EDCA

“We, therefore, view the recently signed Enhanced Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, as an important pillar of our regional security policy. As well as an important response mechanism to humanitarian and natural disasters. A stronger American military presence in the Philippines and great interoperability between our respective armed forces dramatically increases our individual and collective defense capability. Providing an effective deterrent against external aggression.” [Source] May 1st, 2014

“Through the EDCA we have effectively upgraded our own security platform without shifting a significant…

Miriam Santiago - South China Sea

“The government seems to have grown complacent on the issue of the West Philippine Sea dispute, confident that the international tribunal now hearing the memorial it has filed against China will rule in its favor.” [Source] March 3, 2016

Santiago says that if elected president, she will not depend on the US to resolve maritime disputes with China and instead will handle negotiating with China and other countries so find solutions. [Source] March 3, 2016

On maritime disputes with…

Jejomar Binay - South China Sea

Binay calls for cooperation with China on the South China Sea territorial dispute to improve trade relations: “China has money, we need capital." [Source] April 12, 2015

“[EDCA] comes after all on the heels of heightened tensions between China and its neighbors, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, and the Philippines over maritime and territorial control over one of the world’s most important sea lanes of communications, the South China Sea or the West Philippines Sea, as we now refer to it in the Philippines.”…