PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has nominated Philippine Star columnist and media executive Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez as Philippine Ambassador to the United States (US), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, said Romualdez’s nomination would help improve the ties between the two countries.

“The Palace announces the nomination of Mr. Jose Manuel Del Gallego Romualdez as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America,” Abella said.

“We are confident that with Mr. Romualdez at the helm of the Philippine Embassy at Washington, D.C. will further strengthen Philippine-US relations and promote stronger cooperation between the two countries,” he added.

Prior to his formal nomination, Romualdez was appointed on July 5 as special envoy of the President to the US.

Romualdez was initially eyed by Duterte as the country’s ambassador to the US in December last year but he reportedly declined as he has to attend to emergency operation in January because of an eye ailment.

The Philippine Star reported that its columnist has fully recovered and is now ready to assume the post.

Romualdez is president of the Manila Overseas Press Club and vice president of Manila Rotary. He is also the chairman of the Philippine offices of several US-based multinational firms, including FCB Manila and Weber Shandwick Philippines.

His nomination came amid Duterte's series of tirades against the US after former US president Barack Obama questioned his anti-drug war that already claimed the lives of thousands of individuals.

The President has become distant to US, Philippines' long-time ally, and sought improved ties with two influential countries, China and Russia.

But at the time US President Donald Trump assumed office, Duterte has expressed hope to mend ties with the US, especially when the American leader expressed support on Philippines' war on illegal drugs.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim took to Twitter to congratulate Romualdez on his appointment.

“Warm congratulations to my good friend, Babe Romualdez, on his nomination to be Ambassador to the US,” Kim said. (SunStar Philippines)