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Not yet time to return

By: Genalyn Kabiling

Displaced residents of Marawi City are strongly advised against returning to their houses due to the lingering danger to their safety, the military said Monday.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. has asked the Marawi City residents to be more patient as the troops continue to clear the area of explosives and other traps by the rebels.

“Huwag muna po kayong babalik sa inyong mga bahay dahil malaki pa po ang risk o malaki pa po ang danger na inyong haharapin [Please do not return to your houses yet due to the huge risk or danger you will face],” Padilla said in a Palace news conference.

“The current operation inside Marawi is ongoing and the focus is particularly in areas where quite a number of unexploded ordnance and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are still present,” he added.

Apart from explosives, Padilla raised the danger of sniper fire and stray bullets that may hit innocent civilians who insist on returning to Marawi City.

He noted that they received initial reports that a resident who tried to go home was hit by a stray bullet and fortunately survived. He said the incident highlighted the persistent security risks in the battle zone.

Padilla said the government troops want to ensure Marawi City is safe and secure to avoid the loss of more lives and limbs.

He admitted that the military used to clear 50 to 100 buildings a day but the operations have slowed down since the area is littered with unexploded ordnance.

“Unfortunately as we get into the main battle area, the complexity of clearing operations becomes all the more compounded primarily because of many more unexploded ordnance,” he said.

“Kaya nga po hinihiling namin sa kanila na konting pasensya po dahil pati kami ay nagmamadali upang maisagawa itong mga clearing na ‘to,” he added.