Reuters International

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a conference with businessmen in Davao city, southern Philippines June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr/File Photo

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MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order banning the use of honorifics for himself or his cabinet, in a step his office said aimed to reinforce his populist, "simple" style.

Duterte approved the directive on July 15 to halt use of terms such as "Honourable" or "His Excellency", insisting instead on just "president" for himself and "secretary" for the ministers.

The order will not surprise the millions of Filipinos who rallied behind Duterte, an alternative election candidate they swept to power for his down-to-earth style, casual attire and brusque, at times comical, remarks.

Though he will formally be addressed as president, Duterte still prefers to be called "mayor", according to a presidential palace statement.

For more than two decades Duterte was the maverick mayor of southern Davao City, where he earned a reputation as a public servant and ruthless crime-fighter.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the directive was intended to preserve Duterte's "populist" style.

"He encourages less ceremonial communications," Abella added.

Duterte took office three weeks ago and will give his first State of the Nation address on Monday, at what is normally a lavish affair more like a fashion show than a policy speech.

Duterte has ordered this year's event held to a significantly reduced budget, with far fewer guests and a business dress code.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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