MANILA - Malacañang is asking displaced residents of Marawi for understanding as the military still cannot allow them to return to their hometown as firefights continue in the city.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government wants to ensure that civilians are safe while state troops continue to hunt down the remaining terrorists occupying Marawi.
"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 added.
Abella said the military is still in the process of clearing the entire city of boobytraps and improvised explosive devices planted by the Maute terrorists.
"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," said Abella.
The military said soldiers are still hunting down the last 60 members of the Islamic State-linked terror group, which sources say is still being led by Abdullah, one of the Maute brothers.
The military added that,in the last 48 hours, government troops were able to clear 60 more buildings previously used by the Maute group as strongholds in the battle zone.
As of July 9, the death toll in the Marawi crisis has already breached 500 with at least 379 terrorists, 89 soldiers and 39 civilians killed.--with reports from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News