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.”…

Rodrigo Duterte - South China Sea

Duterte speaking to visiting military attachés, including those from the United States and China, during a discussion of the South China Sea territorial: “America would never die for us. If America cared, it would have sent its aircraft carriers and missile frigates the moment China started reclaiming land in contested territory, but no such thing happened.” [Source] July 30, 2015

In reference to Philippines’ case against China over disputed South China Sea territory: “Let’s not talk about ownership and I will not…

Grace Poe - EDCA

Speaking to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg at a forum organized by Rotary Club Manila: "I'm sorry to say this Mr. Ambassador but I know the US is our ally. But we cannot fault [the Philippines] for thinking of their own interests. In pursuing any conflict, the first interest that we need to think of are our constituents." [Source] June 11, 2015

On November 6, 2015, Poe voted for a resolution drafted by Senator Miriam Santiago that EDCA should go through the Senate…

Grace Poe - South China Sea

“We really need to continue with our arbitration case. China and the Philippines are both signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. On the other hand, our relationship with China dates back centuries." [Source] June 11, 2015

“The West Philippine Sea is ours. We will protect our right through peaceful means, and according to international law. We will beef up our Coast Guard and armed forces so that we need not be intimidated by other countries.” [

Grace Poe - Filipino Americans

Shortly before absentee voting began, Poe released a video encouraging Filipinos in America to pursue dual-citizenship between the US and the Philippines: “I encourage the more than 4 million of you living and working in the United States to apply for dual citizenship. I appeal to all of you to exercise your birthright. Become dual citizens because the Philippines is still your home. The advantages, I assure you, are substantial, including the right to vote and to own property in the Philippines.”

Mar Roxas - Trans-Pacific Partnership

“Our entry into this international agreement [the TPP] is not automatic. We must first assess what the plusses and minuses are for us.” [Source] November 23, 2015

"Here's the political reality for any of you who've been following CNN, BBC: TPP is dead. There is no single American presidential candidate that is backing TPP today. I think that the way the dynamics are going in the US today, the chances for TPP are slim to none." [Source] March…

Mar Roxas - EDCA

On the Supreme Court and Justice in the Philippines: “The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows foreign entities to preposition logistics within our shores; some quarters are raising concerns whether such an agreement can be entered into by the Executive, without ratification by the Senate. Again, given the assertiveness of our neighbor to the northwest, this issue must be decided by men and women who will interpret the law not just from a theoretical perspective but from the highest and broadest national interest.”

Mar Roxas - South China Sea

“There will be increasing competition between the US and China. It will be felt in the West Philippines Sea.” [Source] November 2, 2015

In reference to the final decision-making on the Philippines’ case against China over disputed South China Sea territory: “We have to protect our territory. So the President made that decision and I would have made the same decision...of filing that case. So, you take in all the best inputs that you can, and at the end of the…