Duterte may not be able to personally attend AFP change of command ceremony

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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte may not be able to attend on Monday the change of command ceremony for the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), AFP spokesman Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Sunday.

“Ang information that I got from the secretary joint staff is that the President has a prior commitment. So he won’t be able to personally attend. But we’re not sure yet,” Arevalo told reporters in a message, with the quote partly in Filipino.

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Arevalo said Duterte might instead send a “virtual message” to the event, which will take place at the Camp Aguinaldo Officers Club in Quezon City.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will preside over the turnover rites, Arevalo added.

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The Army commanding general, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, will be the next AFP chief, replacing Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., who will retire at the age of 56 on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Arevalo said the change of command would follow physical distancing as part of the COVID-19 pandemic protocols.

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