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Philippines' Marcos to 'hit the ground running' as president

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By Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) -Philippines election winner Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Wednesday he would hit the ground running as president and was looking very carefully at candidates for his economic team, with infrastructure, jobs and energy prices his priorities.

Marcos, the son and namesake of the late dictator who ruled for 20 years before his 1986 overthrow, said his first nominee for his cabinet was Sara Duterte-Carpio, his vice presidential running mate and daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.

"My intention is to hit the ground running. If the proclamation pushes through later this month, we have to be ready. We are already talking about the appointments," Marcos told a news conference.

"The economic managers are going to be critical for the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic crisis. So that is something that we are looking at very carefully."

Marcos said political affiliation was not a factor in selecting people to work in his government.

"I continue to be guided by, as I said before, competence and willingness to work with the next administration. In our discussions, we removed immediately what their political leanings have been."

Duterte-Carpio was the only potential cabinet member mentioned by Marcos.

She was a vital component of the Marcos campaign, making inroads for him in new voter territory and helping him to tap her father's huge support base.

He had said very little about his objectives during his campaign, focusing on an ambiguous message of unity in a country that has long been divided in its opinions of the Marcos family and its far-reaching political influence.

His skipping of debates and media appearances frustrated business and university groups, who said he was avoiding scrutiny and denying voters the chance to hear his platforms.

In his statement, he said critical focus areas for his presidency were energy prices, jobs, infrastructure and education.

He said he wanted a government that gives voice to everyone who wants to help and that he was guided by the 31 million Filipinos who voted for him and "have agreed to unify and help us unify the country".

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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