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Marcos of the Philippines appoints former military chief as defense minister

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President-elect of the Philippines Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. speaks at a press conference in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines, May 23, 2022. REUTERS / Lisa Marie David

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MANILA, June 17 (Reuters) – Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has appointed former military chief Jose Faustino as the next Southeast Asian defense minister in his cabinet, his press secretary said on Friday. .

When he takes office later this month, Faustino will have to balance the Philippines’s relationship with Washington, a treaty ally, and Beijing, which continues its confident stance on claiming almost the entire South China Sea.

He will also have to face a decades-long insurgency by Maoist rebels and the constant threat of violent Muslim extremism in the volatile southern Philippines.

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Faustino will initially be the officer in charge of the defense ministry, in accordance with a rule that prohibits military officers from taking ministerial posts for one year after retirement. He would later become defense chief, press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles in a statement.

Faustino was the tenth military chief to serve under outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, leading the 143,000-strong army for four months last year.

Relations between the United States and its former Asian colony have been strained under Duterte, who has criticized U.S. foreign policy and sought closer ties with China since coming to power in 2016.

Marcos, who will be sworn in as president on June 30, has not yet appointed his foreign minister.

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Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies

Our standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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2/ https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-marcos-taps-former-military-chief-defence-minister-2022-06-17/

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