Duterte skips AFP change of command ceremony

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 24)— President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana took the reins from the chief executive, who was supposed to lead the retirement ceremony of outgoing AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte had slight fever due to his "punishing schedule of official and social events" in the past few days.

"He opted to rest so he can be his usual healthy self in no time," Panelo said in a message to reporters.

Madrigal will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, who served as head of the AFP Central Command based in Cebu.

Malacañang earlier said Duterte wanted Clement to prioritize the government’s fight against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.

Clement's three-decade track record in the military was marred by his alleged involvement in the 2007 abduction of activist and "desaparecido" Jonas Burgos. But the incoming AFP chief denied the claims against him.