MALACAÑANG warned residents of Marawi that it is still not safe for them to return to the city, as remnants of the Maute terror group remain in the area.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella made the statement Sunday as a group of women was planning to return to Marawi on July 24 when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address (Sona). The group wants to show to the world that the displaced residents have been suffering in the evacuation centers.
Abella said the government understands the sentiments of the residents of Marawi wanting to return home after being forced to flee from the city.
But he said the government is concerned with the safety and welfare of all civilians, especially women and children.
"There is no assurance that areas outside the main battle zone are already safe to reside and live in, as incidents of cases of stray bullet victims have been reported," he said.
He added that the clearing of the entire city of Marawi of improvised explosive device and boobytraps left by terrorists, unexploded ordnance and other explosives is still ongoing.
"The danger and risks these pose still remain high. For the safety of everyone, it is better to just wait for the end of hostilities and the completion of clearing operations," he said.
Duterte this week expressed hope that military operations against Maute terrorists in Marawi would be finally over in 10 to 15 days.
The President placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 when the terrorists started occupying Marawi.
He is waiting for the recommendation of the police and the military if he would extend the 60-day martial law, which would expire on July 22. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)