MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not visit Marawi to commemorate the first year of the Marawi siege, said Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
Go said on Wednesday, May 23, that Duterte would rather visit the city later this year to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of Marawi from terrorist influence.
"The start of the Marawi siege is something that is not worth celebrating. And for being such, the President is not keen on visiting Marawi a year after it was desecrated by members of the ISIS-Maute group," Go said in a message to reporters.
"The President and I, however, prefer to join the people of Marawi City during the celebration of its liberation," he added.
On Tuesday, May 22, Duterte's spokesman relayed a different message to reporters. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte would visit Marawi soon for activities related to the siege's first year.
Sources privy to government plans on observing the first yearof the Marawi siege said that there were initial plans for Duterte to lead a commemoration for fallen soldiers in Marawi on Thursday, May 24.
On Wednesday, Go said the President would rather pay a visit to Marawi when things are back to normal in the city.
"Mas nanaisin ng Pangulo na sa muling pagdalaw niya sa Marawi ay makikita ng balik na sa normal ang pamumuhay ng mga Maranao (The President prefers to visit Marawi to see that the Maranao's way of life has returned to normal)," said Go.
The Marawi crisis began on May 23, 2017, when the ISIS-linked Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf attacked the city in a bid to take over the Islamic city and turn it into a caliphate. On the same day, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao. The siege lasted 5 months and laid waste to the city's busiest districts.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.