Palace: No humanitarian crisis in PHL

THE government's openness to accepting any foreign assistance to victims of the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City does not mean that the Philippines is enduring a humanitarian crisis, Malacañang said Friday.

In a press conference in Davao City, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella allayed public's fears over possible humanitarian crisis as the battle between government troops and Maute group in Marawi continues.

Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte's call on allied countries to help the administration in rebuilding war-torn Marawi City is "normal," especially when a nation needs "a helping hand."

He added that there was nothing wrong in providing assistance because Philippines and its allies have shared commitment to fight terrorism and ensure peace among the region.

"The President’s invitation for international partners to aid in rebuilding is not synonymous with the humanitarian crisis. He said in numerous occasions that we welcome foreign assistance in the Marawi situation, especially in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery phase, especially now that troops are about to liberate the city from lawless elements," he said.

"It is normal for friends and allies to support each other which need a helping hand. And after all, we have our shared commitment with other countries to combat terrorism and attain sustainable peace," he added.

The Philippines has received assistance from the United States, China and Australia to help liberate Marawi City in soonest time.

The 38th day of Islamist fighters' uprising in the besieged city has resulted in the killings of 44 civilians, 303 terrorists, and 82 security troops.

On Thursday, the President was confident that the government forces would be successful in clearing Marawi City from extremists in just "a matter of days," saying the government is evidently "winning the war."

Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, deputy commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, ensured that the military has "continuously prevented the spillover or spread of the Marawi crisis."

Gapay said the troops have “effectively shielded Eastern Mindanao” as it remains “generally peaceful, safe and secure.”

“We have effectively shielded Eastern Mindanao from terrorist attacks and deterred any diversionary, retaliatory or sympathetic attacks by the local terrorists groups here in Eastern Mindanao,” he said.

"We have also denied terrorists from making our area a safe haven, as their (terrorists) safe havens, sanctuaries, and even as transit points. So, so far, Eastern Mindanao remains generally peaceful, safe and secure," he added.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told reporters on Thursday that the government is ready to implement the "Bangon Marawi" restoration and rehabilitation program for Marawi City, as soon as Marawi is cleared of the Islamist terrorists. (SunStar Philippines)

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