MANILA - Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. is confident government forces will be able to recapture the city of Marawi from the hands of the Maute terror group before the 60-day martial law lapses.
"Palagay ko makukuha natin by the 60th day. Ang ano lang natin dito, medyo malaki ang gagawin nating socio-economic preparation. Medyo iba kasi 'yung ano ng Marawi, so very sensitive kasi ang culture, very traditional po talaga dito kaya very sensitive din po kami sa paggawa ng operation," Galvez told DZMM Monday.
He also said they are very careful in carrying out military operations in the city because of the residents.
"Kaya very sensitive po kami sa paggawa ng operations. Alam po namin na very sensitive po 'yun. Marami pong royal sultanates dito, marami rin pong highly-educated na Muslims kaya very (sensitive) po kami," Galvez said.
According to Galvez, around 90 percent of the residents have already evacuated to nearby Iligan City or Cagayan de Oro City.
"90 percent of residents, they went to Iligan or Cagayan de Oro, parang ghost town na po itong Marawi City," he said.
He also advised other residents who are still in the city to evacuate and look for a safer place.
"Ang aming pinaka-advise, lalo na po 'yung malapit sa engagement area ay talaga pong lumayo po sila. Lumikas po sila sa karatig-bayan o karatig na lugar, para at least po safe sila," Galvez said.
He added that it is possible that the Maute group is still holding hostages as they have yet to cover other areas in the city.
The fighting between government troops and Maute rebels in the southern city of Marawi has left 100 people dead, the military said Monday, as the crisis entered its 7th day.
Among the fatalities were 61 Maute extremists, 20 government troops, and 19 civilians, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Edgar Arevalo told radio DZMM.
Of the civilian casualties, 8 men were found dead in a ditch approaching Marawi City on Sunday. Beside them was a cardboard sign with the word "munafik," which means traitor.
Another 8 bodies -- 4 men, 3 women and a child -- were recovered Sunday afternoon near a university in Marawi's town center.