Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte names members of his Cabinet

Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte addressing his supporters at a rally before the Philippines' national elections in May. Mr Duterte named his Cabinet on May 31, 2016 following his landslide election victory.
Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte addressing his supporters at a rally before the Philippines' national elections in May. Mr Duterte named his Cabinet on May 31, 2016 following his landslide election victory.PHOTO: REUTERS

DAVAO (Reuters) - Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (May 31) named the members of his Cabinet, a day after a joint session of Congress declared him the winner of the May 9 presidential elections.

"I can assure you, they are men of honesty and integrity," Mr Duterte told a news conference in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than two decades before he was elected president.

Mr Duterte named former classmate Carlos Dominguez as finance minister, economics professor Ernesto Pernia as economic planning minister and a former coup leader as head of the customs bureau.

Mr Dominguez, who was mining and farm minister in two previous governments, hails from a wealthy family that has interests in mining and hotels, while the United States-educated Mr Pernia is a former lead economist for the Asian Development Bank.

Mr Duterte also named Mr Nicanor Faeldon, who led a coup bid about a decade ago against then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over corruption concerns, as the head of the customs bureau, the country's second largest revenue agency.

Mr Faeldon, a former marine, has the job of reining in smuggling, which Mr Aquino's government struggled to check. Since 1990, the Philippines has lost an estimated US$23 billion through falsified documents on the entry of goods, a US-based research and advocacy body, Global Financial Integrity, said in 2014.

In an interview with broadcaster GMA, Mr Aquino declined to comment on his expectations of the Duterte government.

Mr Duterte's Cabinet also includes former soldiers, police officers from Davao City and officials from the past five administrations.

At the news conference, Mr Duterte reiterated plans to streamline the bureaucracy, cut red tape and fight crime. He said he would recruit two army divisions and 3,000 police officers to help tackle national security, drugs and crime.

Asked about relations with China, including the topic of the disputed South China Sea, Mr Duterte said he would pursue an independent foreign policy and not rely on long-time security ally the United States.

"I will be chartering a course on its own and will not be dependent on the United States," he said.

China and the Philippines are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which US$5 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The 71 year-old, tough-talking Duterte won by more than six million votes over closest rival Manuel Roxas, who was backed by President Benigno Aquino but rebuffed by nearly 40 per cent of the 44 million Filipinos who picked Mr Duterte.