Marawi mayor tells residents: Stay indoors, remain vigilant
MANILA - The mayor of Marawi City is advising residents of the city to stay indoors as government troops continue to pursue the Maute terror group who occupied parts of the city.
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said on Wednesday that while the firefight appears to have eased this morning, it will be better if residents stay indoors until the situation has completely normalized.
"Pinalabas ko po ang aking mga tao to observe the situation meron pong mga tindahan na nagbubukas. Pero we are advising them to be vigilant and extra careful," he said, adding that classes will remain suspended for now.
The mayor also confirmed the local government had advanced knowledge of a possible terror attack but did not expect the large number of extremists attacking the city.
"Alam po namin na merong mangyayari. That's why palagi po namang alert but we did not expect na ganoon karami ang papasok dito," he said.
"As I've said, una pong una pong nag-operate ang military... After that, may reports na sa mga barangay na may sightings na ng members of the group," he added.
Gandarma said there are an estimated 100 Maute and Abu Sayyaf extremists behind the attack.
Lt. General Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, earlier told ANC that they pursuing up to 80 terrorists. He added that as far as he knows, the Maute group has not gained total control in any establishments in the city.
Despite a declaration of martial law, Gandamra said operations of the Marawi government remain the same. The mayor said he has yet to discuss details of the martial law declaration with the military.
"The declaration of Martial Law ay napapanahon naman po. Ang hinihingi lang po ng gobyerno ay marespeto ang human rights ng mga civilian," he added.
The mayor said he will not leave the city hall to prevent the terrorists from taking over Marawi's seat of power. Authorities are also waiting for reinforcements from the Philippine National Police.