MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Manila’s UN Ambassador Enrique Manalo as the country’s new foreign affairs secretary, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, won a landslide victory in May’s presidential election and was sworn into office on Thursday.
He has vowed to open a new chapter in the country’s history and said his administration would have an independent foreign policy.
Manalo is a career diplomat who has been serving as the Philippine permanent representative to the UN in New York and had twice served as the department’s undersecretary.
“President Marcos appointed Secretary Manalo in view of his long and distinguished career in the Philippine Foreign Service and his vast experience in diplomacy,” the DFA said in a statement.
Marcos preferred a career diplomat to helm the department, the DFA said, so that the Philippines could “effectively advance its interests [on] the international stage in the face of formidable challenges.”
Manalo took his oath on Friday at the presidential palace in Manila but will need a few days “to wind up affairs in his previous post,” press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a text message to reporters.
His appointment is seen as reflecting Marcos’ choice to have an official who “truly understands the external challenges and opportunities” faced by the Philippines, Victor Andres Manhit, president of Stratbase ADR Institute, a research consultancy firm in Manila, told Arab News.
“A senior career foreign service officer brings that to the office,” he said.
“I hope Secretary Manalo focuses on broadening our engagements and partnerships with countries that believe in a multipolar world and a rules-based international order.”
Manalo, whose career in foreign service began in 1979, had also served as acting secretary of the DFA for two months in 2017 as well as Philippine ambassador to the UK and Belgium.
His appointment and that of other officials in Marcos’ cabinet would have to be approved by the appointments commission of the Philippine House of Representatives.