Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has named the members of his cabinet from his home town of Davao, a day after a joint session of Congress declared him the winner of the May 9 presidential elections.
Carlos Dominguez, an ex-classmate of Duterte, was named on Tuesday as finance minister, while US-educated Ernesto Pernia, a former lead economist for the Asian Development Bank, will assume the role of minister of economic planning.
“I can assure you, they are men of honesty and integrity,” said Duterte, announcing the 34 new officials at a news conference in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than two decades before he was elected president.
Dominguez, who was mining and farm minister in two previous governments, hails from a wealthy family that has interests in mining and hotels.
Duterte also named Nicanor Faeldon, who led an uprising 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.
Faeldon, a former marine, has the job of reining in smuggling, which the government of President Benigno Aquino struggled to check.
Duterte’s cabinet also includes former soldiers, police officers from Davao City and officials from the past five administrations.
At the news conference, 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 to tackle national security, drugs and crime.
Asked about relations with China, including the topic of the disputed South China Sea, Duterte said he would pursue an independent foreign policy and not rely on the US, a longtime security ally.
“I will be chartering a course on its own and will not be dependent on the United States,” Duterte said.
China and the Philippines are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which $5 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
Duterte, 71, will be sworn into office on June 30.
After being declared the winner of the May 9 presidential elections on Monday, he snubbed the nationally televised event, reinforcing his image of a challenger of the nation’s political establishment.
“I am not attending the proclamation. I’ve never attended any proclamation (in) all my life,” said Duterte, who vowed to wipe out crime within six months.
He pledged to give security forces shoot-to-kill orders, and vowed that tens of thousands of criminals would die. Since the election, Duterte has continued to encourage police to kill drug suspects, and said he would bring back the death penalty.
Duterte railed against the elites and promised to fight for the poor, despite having created his own political dynasty in Davao and his own vice presidential running mate coming from one of the nation’s richest families.