Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr appointed career diplomat Enrique Manalo as foreign affairs secretary, the president’s press secretary said on Friday. Before the appointment, Manalo served as the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Prior to that, he was undersecretary for policy at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Manalo has asked for a few days before he takes over the position previously held by Teodoro Locsin so he could wind up affairs in his previous post, press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a text message. Marcos, who was sworn in as president on Thursday , has said his administration would have an independent foreign policy and recognised that international partnerships were key to a stable region. In a speech in June, Marcos vowed to foster “stronger and deeper” Philippines-China relations. He said relations with China are “very important” and “advantageous to both countries”, considering China as his country’s “strongest partner” in pandemic recovery. Beijing calls on Marcos for better South China Sea dispute resolution “We look forward to continuing fostering this relationship. Making it stronger. Making it deeper and to the advantage of our two great countries,” Marcos said, adding that he sees the future of Philippines-China relations “developing in many ways”. Manalo, whose foreign service career began in 1979, also served as Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg. “A veteran diplomat is more likely to appreciate the need to navigate difficult nuances and choices in geopolitics,” retired political professor Temario Rivera said. “By appointing Manalo, (Marcos) might be sending a signal of trying not to antagonise any of the major powers in the region, especially the US and China.” Marcos’ cabinet appointments would have to be approved by a house appointments commission.