Philippines’ UN envoy named foreign secretary as Duterte eyes cabinet revamp

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines’ ambassador to the United Nations was named the country’s new foreign secretary on Friday, the first of several cabinet changes expected ahead of mid-term elections next year.

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Czar Dancel

President Rodrigo Duterte said he asked ambassador Teodoro Locsin to replace Alan Peter Cayetano, who planned to seek a seat in the lower house of Congress. Cayetano was a three-term congressman and a two-term senator before he joined the cabinet last year.

“Can you please call Teddy Boy Locsin and ask him if I can mention his name here,” Duterte said to an aide during a news conference in Manila.

FILE PHOTO: Congressman Teodoro Locsin gestures next to Cesar Flores (C), a Smartmatic official, during a visit to inspect automated machines that were used during national and local elections at the warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna province, south of Manila May 31, 2010. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Locsin, a former three-term congressman and a newspaper publisher, tweeted later on Friday: “I was asked. I said yes.”

Candidates began registering on Thursday for the mid-term elections scheduled for May 2019 and seen as a referendum on Duterte’s administration.

Five more cabinet members are expected to quit and run for elective positions, including the ministers for agriculture and agrarian reform, a political adviser and a special assistant.

Duterte’s press spokesman Harry Roque is also leaving to run for public office next year, the president’s office said. Roque was replaced by the president’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo.

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Nearly 320 seats in the two-chamber legislature and more than 17,000 local government positions, from 81 provincial governors to abut 1,600 municipal councillors, will be contested nationwide.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Manuel Mogato; Editing By Darren Schuettler


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