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Gov’t restricts entry, info on Marawi

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

The government has imposed restrictions on the entry of persons into Marawi City as well as information emanating from the war-torn place for security purposes.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said any person or group, including those involved in relief operations, must obtain security clearance from the military to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

“Ever since about two weeks ago, we have instituted some controls on people getting inside Marawi,” Lorenzana said during a Palace press briefing yesterday.

“They have to clear it with Gen. (Ramiro) Rey and we only choose people who can go up. The reason being, we don’t want a lot of people there roaming around in Marawi while the firing – the shooting is still going on,” he said.

When the rehabilitation in Marawi starts, Lorenzana said they also intend to control the flow of people entering the city. He said military checkpoints will be established to ensure only persons with “legitimate” reasons would enter the area.

Lorenzana said the military has no intention of controlling the news but would limit the release of some information that may harm government operations.

“We do not want unwanted people to be here roaming around taking pictures and then reporting na hindi naman dapat i-report sa labas,” he said.

“Although we will not control news, we would like also to see to it that only those news that should be published are getting out na hindi naman masyadong derogatory sa mga nangyayari sa loob,” Lorenzana said.

For the past month, government troops have launched operations to flush out the Islamic State-linked militants sowing havoc in Marawi. The operations, however, have been hampered by the rebels’ use of human shields, snipers, and mosques as staging areas for attacks.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the military offensives are focused on the remaining pockets of resistance.

Abella reiterated the government will not negotiate with terrorists.

“The AFP reiterates its call to all our civilians to practice the concept of shared responsibility in security by being vigilant, alert, and conscious of their immediate environs wherever they are and to report to authorities suspicious persons or items left unattended immediately,” he said.