Duterte to 'likely skip' AFP change of command rites

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — President Rodrigo Duterte may not attend the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday, according to the military.

On Sunday, AFP spokesperson Edgard Arevalo said this was due to a "prior commitment".

"Ang information that I got from the secretary (of the AFP) Joint Staff, meron daw prior commitment ang ating Pangulo kaya hindi siya personal na makakaattend. But we're not sure yet. He may be sending his (taped) message," he said.

[Translation: The information that I got from the secretary of the AFP Joint Staff, is the President has a prior commitment so he will be unable to attend. But we're not sure yet. He may be sending his (taped) message.]

If Duterte misses the event, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will ipreside over the ceremony, the announcement also said.

Army Chief LtGen Gilbert Gapay will take his post as the 54th AFP Chief of Staff, replacing Gen Felimon Santos Jr., who has reached his mandatory retirement age of 56.

In a statement, the AFP also said it was scaling down Monday's ceremonies due to health protocols amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

The President also missed last year's change of command ceremony because he has a slight fever, according to then spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Lorenzana took the reins for Duterte last year.