Duterte skips Marawi siege anniversary rites

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte did not visit Marawi City on Wednesday, skipping all activities lined up to commemorate the first anniversary of the bloody siege.

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said Duterte does not want to "honor" the day the ISIS-linked Maute group attacked the city and took over several areas on May 23 last year.

"Sa (anniversary ng) liberation ng Marawi kami pupunta (We will go there during the anniversary of Marawi's liberation)," Go told reporters in a text message.

Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi on October 17 last year, during his seventh visit to the city since the war broke out.

Less than a week after, Defense Secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana announced the termination of all combat operations in Marawi, ending the five-month war that killed more than 900 terrorists, 47 civilians, and 168 soldiers and policemen.

The government on Wednesday lined up several activities to honor the fallen heroes, including a solemn ceremony at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol in Marawi City, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Public activities offering basic social services, from medical care to skills training, are also being held in Marawi all week long.

Duterte assumes full responsibility

On the eve of the anniversary, Duterte took full responsibility for the Marawi siege and admitted the government had shortcomings in handling the crisis.

"We had a very sad experience in the Marawi siege. And we all know… that we have fallen short in some respects the way it was handled. I assume full responsibility," Duterte said in a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Navy.

He said he did not expect the siege to last more than four months. He did not elaborate on the government's "faults" in retaking Marawi.

Some groups are also staging protests on Wednesday to condemn alleged human rights violations after Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 last year.

The military has vowed to investigate abuses allegedly committed by government troops.

Martial law remains in effect in Mindanao until the end of the year after Congress granted Duterte's second request for an extension.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.