'Exhausted' Duterte skips Independence Day rites

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped participation in what would have been his first Independence Day rites on Monday, leaving Vice President Leni Robredo to lead the event at the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park in Manila.

Minutes before the start of the program at 8 a.m., Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told the media the President wouldn't be able to attend the event.

"Si President po ay wala naman binibigay na dahilan pero palagay lang po natin ay mayroon siyang mga hinahanarap na ibang bagay upang maayos talaga yung hinaharap natin na challenges sa bayan," he said.

[Translation: The President did not give a reason, but we think he is finding ways to fix the challenges the country is facing.]

Vice President Robredo, as the second highest-ranking official of the country, led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies during the 119th anniversary of the Philippine independence. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano stood beside her as Duterte's representative.

Cayetano said he was informed by the President at 6 a.m. that he won't be able to attend the ceremony following his hectic schedule. He said the President was tired from his numerous visits to the military camps in different parts of the country.

On Sunday night, Duterte honored fallen Philippine Marine Corps personnel killed in the anti-terror operations in Marawi City​. As the ​Commander-in-Chief, Duterte led the dignified transfer of the remains at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. He also condoled with the bereaved families. He then proceeded to the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where he joined the funeral of the slain soldiers.

LOOK: President Duterte at the transfer of the fallen Marines from Marawi

"That's why he's resting. Hindi siya nagpilit magising kasi napakahirap na dalawa, tatlong oras lang tulog mo... It's just that he's not feeling well, Puyat na puyat, pagod. Nothing to worry about," he said.

[Translation: That's why he's resting. He wasn't forced to wake up because it's hard when you've only had two, three hours of sleep. He's not feeling well, he lacks sleep, he's tired. Nothing to worry about.]

The traditional vin d'honneur, where a luncheon is prepared for members of the diplomatic corps in Malacañang Palace, has also been canceled.

Cayetano said Duterte is not in the mood to give a toast, considering the significant number of governement troops and civilians killed in the Marawi crisis.

Other government officials led the flag-raising ceremonies across the country.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.