FOR the first time, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, September 24, skipped the change of command ceremony for the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff.

The President, 74, reportedly has fever and has opted to rest, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

"The [Palace] wishes to announce that the President opted not to attend the Change of Command Ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo today September 24, 2019, and instead designated Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana to represent him in the event," Panelo said in a statement.

"The punishing schedule of official and social events the previous days has slightly affected his body temperature. He opted to rest so he can be his usual healthy self in no time," he added.

Duterte, as commander-in-chief, was supposed to lead the change of command and retirement rites between new AFP Chief of Staff Noel Clement and outgoing chief of staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr. Tuesday afternoon at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The Chief Executive was instead represented by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Clement is the 52nd AFP chief of staff and the sixth under Duterte's watch.

He will serve for barely four months, as he is set to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 for military service on January 5, 2020.

Duterte's recent schedule included a surprise birthday party for Panelo on Monday, September 23.

In an Instagram video posted by actress Gretchen Barretto, Duterte was seen performing his favorite song "Ikaw."

The President's health condition has been causing concern as Duterte has several times taken time away from the public eye.

In August, Duterte was again rumored to have been admitted to the hospital due to his frail health, but Malacañang assured the public the same month that the 74-year-old President is "strong" and busy fulfilling his mandate as the highest official in the land. (SunStar Philippines)