While US President Donald Trump plots a long one-year re-election campaign -- and a bitter fight against impeachment -- his Democratic rivals are still months from determining who his 2020 challenger will be.

Five things to know about 2020 Democratic race

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by Michael Mathes

While US President Donald Trump plots a long one-year re-election campaign — and a bitter fight against impeachment — his Democratic rivals are still months from determining who his 2020 challenger will be.

It has been a grueling race for the party’s nomination. More than two dozen candidates in the diverse field, from prominent elder statesmen to political neophytes, started the journey, and some 18 remain.

Democratic debates with increasingly high qualification thresholds have sought to narrow the field and enlighten voters about candidate platforms from health care and climate change to gun laws, immigration and foreign policy.

With one year before the election, and barely three months until the first votes are cast in the nomination contest, beginning in Iowa, here are the must-know elements about the Democratic showdown.

– Biden still leads –
Former vice president Joe Biden remains the man to beat despite several verbal miscues, his advancing age, halting debate performances and relentless attacks by Trump.

“I know I’m the frontrunner,” Biden proclaimed to CBS on its “60 Minutes” show broadcast Sunday, pointing to the majority of polls that show him ahead.

“But look, this is a marathon.”

Doubts have crept in about whether Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years, can go the distance.

He turns 77 in three weeks, and for several minutes during a recent speech in Pennsylvania, his nostalgic childhood recollections suggested a longing for bygone days rather than eying the future.

He’s getting swamped in the fundraising stakes by other campaigns. Biden’s announced third-quarter haul trailed rivals Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

But Biden is drawing substantial support from two crucial voting blocs: African Americans loyal to him for his eight years serving with president Barack Obama, and working-class white men who see him as the best chance to defeat Trump.

– Warren faces pushback –
Snapping at Biden’s heels is Elizabeth Warren who, along with her liberal Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, has energized the progressive wing of the party.

She has ridden an uphill trajectory by intoning “I have a plan for that” — a pitch that signals she has thought out a broad swathe of policy proposals for improving the economy, expanding LGBTQ rights and reforming criminal justice.

As her popularity expanded, so did the political target on her back. At the October debate, rivals attacked her lack of clarity on how to pay for her universal health care proposal.

Medicare for All’s staggering cost is projected at between $14 and $34 trillion. Centrists such as Biden say the exorbitant cost is unworkable. Warren, 70, says she will release details soon.

– Impeachment complications –
As Democrats battle for supremacy, the rare political drama of impeachment is playing out in Washington.

Most Democratic candidates are demanding Trump’s ouster. But it is the very impeachment investigation, with its bombshell witness depositions, which is sucking up the political oxygen, denying 2020 campaigns the exposure they need to thrive.

Caught in the crossfire is Biden. Trump stands accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president.

While there is no evidence of Biden wrongdoing, the appearance of poor ethical judgment could cloud Biden’s path.

A Trump impeachment would mean a trial in the Senate, severely complicating the campaigns of six senators who remain in the 2020 race but would be anchored to Washington during the proceedings.

– Still hopeful –
Biden and Warren are dominating, but viable rivals remain.

They include Sanders, at 78 the oldest candidate, who is recovering from a heart attack suffered in early October.

Sanders, who narrowly trails Warren in the RealClearPolitics poll aggregate, is the race’s most liberal, and has called for nothing less than a political revolution to rehabilitate America’s working class.

Senator Kamala Harris surged after the June debate where she confronted Biden, but she has struggled to remain in contention and slipped to fifth spot.

Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has soared past her with a compelling performance in recent months. His centrist Midwestern realism has helped him gain traction.

– Do-or-die –
Lower-tier candidates are under tremendous pressure to claim a breakout moment, perhaps at the next debate November 20, or exit.

Obama-era cabinet member Julian Castro and Senator Cory Booker have repeatedly threatened to quit if they miss fundraising goals.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s surprisingly popular campaign and Senator Amy Klobuchar’s resilient bid will likely survive into next year.

But those of ex-congressman Beto O’Rourke, Senator Michael Bennet, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and others appear to be on the chopping block.

Agence France-Presse

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Risa seeks inquiry on PNP, PDEA’s ‘dramatic, traumatic misencounter’

Senator Risa Hontiveros is set to file a resolution seeking a Senate investigation, in aid of legislation, on Wednesday’s “misencounter” between the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“We need to look into this further. It is very alarming that this is not the first time that such a ‘misencounter’ has happened,” the senator said.

“The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) did admit that this has happened numerous times. These ‘misencounters’ should be rare, not common,” Hontiveros said.

The shooting incident occurred along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, killing two policemen.

According to the Quezon City Police District Station 6, the QCPD’s District Special Operations Unit conducted a buy-bust operation near Ever Gotesco Mall. However, the DSOU officers were not aware that they were transacting with PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service (SES) agents.

“How could this have happened, at all, in the first place?” Hontiveros said.

“Why did the shootout take place for as long as an hour? Hindi ba pwedeng magkalinawan, even within the first few minutes, that a misencounter breaks out?” the senator added.

“There was a dramatic lack of coordination between the PNP and PDEA. Someone somewhere must have been grossly negligent. Ang laki ng intelligence funds nila pareho pero ganyan ang nangyari,” Hontiveros said.

She noted that in 2021, the PNP was given an intelligence fund of P856 million while PDEA was given P500 million.

Hontiveros said she hopes that the Board of Inquiry formed by the PNP will get to the bottom of what happened.

Lapid wants to punish sons, daughters who abandon elderly, sickly parents

Senator Lito Lapid has filed a bill that proposes to criminalize the act of “deprivation of support” to incapacitated parents.

Senate Bill 2061 “reinforces the duty of children to take care of their elderly, sickly or otherwise, incapacitated parents.”

The bill states that children shall, within their means and capacity, maintain support for their father or mother, who by virtue of being over sixty (60) years of age or suffering from a disease or disablity, are rendered incapable of supporting themselves.”

The bill also cites Article 195 of the Family Code which says parents and their children are obliged to give support to each other.

“This means that the obligation to support cuts both ways— parents must support their children, especially during the years of their minority and dependency; on the other hand, children who are already capable must take care of their elderly, disease or disability-stricken parents who are in need,” Lapid said.

Unfortunately, abuse against an elderly, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated parent, which includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse, abandonment, neglect and serious loss of dignity and respect, has become an “invisible issue” in the Philippines, according to Commission on Human Rights.

“Nakakalungkot isipin na ang mga magulang na nagpakapagod noong panahong malakas pa sila para masuportahan ang kanilang mga anak, ay kaya na lamang tiisin at abandunahin sa panahong matanda na sila,” Lapid said.

Any person, who despite having the capacity, but neglects to maintain support to his or her parent shall be liable for deprivation of support to parent and shall be punishable by imprisonment of arresto menor as the minimum and arresto mayor as the maximum.

There are also respective fines of not less than P200,000 but not more than P500,000, at the discretion of the court.

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