Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos Jr has appointed former military chief as defense minister

Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos Jr has appointed a former military chief as defense minister. 

According to his press secretary, former military leader Jose Faustino has been named by Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr as the Southeast Asian country’s next defense minister.

Faustino will have to strike a balance between the Philippines’ ties with Washington, a treaty ally, and Beijing, which maintains its aggressive attitude in claiming practically all of the South China Sea when he takes office later this month.

In the turbulent southern Philippines, he will also have to deal with a decades-long Maoist insurgency and the continuous threat of violent Muslim extremism.

By a regulation prohibiting military commanders from taking up ministerial positions for a year following retirement, Faustino will begin as the officer in charge of the defense ministry. 

In a statement, press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said he would become the defense chief.

Faustino led the 143,000-strong military for four months last year as the 10th military leader to serve under departing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has strained relations between the United States and its former Asian colony, criticizing US foreign policy and seeking stronger ties with China.

Marcos has yet to choose his foreign affairs minister, even though he was sworn in as president on June 30.