Marawi casualties to be honored

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(File Photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — A solemn tribute will be held Wednesday to honor those who died defending Marawi City from terrorists.

The government has set several activities to commemorate the day the ISIS-linked Maute terror group attacked the Islamic City, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, on May 23 last year.

Survivors, rescuers, and government officials will gather for a ceremony to honor the dead, but it will be away from the battle zone in Marawi, which remains off-limits to the public for clearing operations.

"They (soldiers) are still conducting clearing operations. We still have unexploded bombs," Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner said.

Terrorists planted improvised explosive devices, booby traps, and bombs during the five-month war which ended in October 2017. The government also launched airstrikes.

More than 160 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians died after the last shot was fired. More than 50 people are still missing.

Malacañang has yet to confirm if President Rodrigo Duterte will attend Wednesday's ceremony, but Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza is expected to lead the tribute.

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

Malacañang on Tuesday said 70 percent of residents displaced by the war in Marawi have returned to their homes.

Meanwhile in Manila, the Philippine Army will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig to commemorate the soldiers' heroism.

On the eve of the anniversary, 640 Marawi veterans were promoted.

Protests set

Some groups have announced they will stage a protest rally on Wednesday to condemn alleged human rights violations after Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 last year.

The Armed Forces 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' David Santos and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.