The American election arouses little excitement in the Phillippines with both President Ferdinand Marcos and opposition politicians declaring disinterest in who wins.
American policy toward the Phillippines won't undergo any serious change if the ultimate winner is Ronald Reagan or President Carter, says Marcos.
"It's an election between Tweedledum and Tweddledumdum," scoffed one opposition leader. "We don't much care."
Filipinos learned their politics from Americans and normally take a serious interest in the twists and turns of an American election year, even though opposing candidates rarely pose a clear-cut difference in policies affecting this Asian nation.
One well-informed Asian diplomat, however, said he is convinced that top Marcos aides favor Reagan, principally because they are tired of the Carter administration's nose being poked into human-rights issues in this authoritarian country and because they consider Reagan a military hawk who would provide more defense for his part of the world.
Like some other Asian allies, the Philippines has been critical of what it sees as a diminished U.S. interest in this region since the end of the war in Vietnam. That has led some to conclude here that Marcos would be happier with the ascendancy of Reagan because of the Republican candidate's insistence on building up the U.S. worldwide defenses.
One diplomat speculated that the government believes Reagan would further expand the two major American defense installations here, especially the large air base and naval base. He observed that traditionally the leases for those bases are accompanied by large amounts of economic aid, nominally described as "economic support" funds tied to the impact of large bases.