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80% of Marawi evacuated, gov’t vows ‘maximum power’

EVACUATE. Resident fleeing Marawi City cramped on a truck as they traverse a traffic gridlock near a police checkpoint at the entrance of Iligan City on May 24, 2017. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MARAWI CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – On the 5th day of the crisis, an estimated 80% of Marawi City residents have evacuated as the military vows to use its "maximum power" to flush out local terrorist groups.

Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal "Bombit" Adiong Jr said almost all of the city’s 200,000 population have evacuated to nearby Iligan City.

"Our estimate is about 80% have evacuated. The others are still inside..," Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said on Saturday, May 27.

"Lahat gustong umalis (Everyone wants to leave)," the mayor said.

Gandamra said most of the residents of Marawi City either own houses in Iligan City or have relatives who live there and can accommodate them.

This means only the poorest among the city residents are forced to go to evacuation centers.

Contained conflict area

In an interview with dzRB, Adiong said the fighting is confined to Marawi City. "Sa mga kalapit munisipyo…wala namang nangyayari kasi ang mga kababayan natin na naninirahan dito sa Marawi City, nag-evacuate na sa mga iba’t ibang munisipyo dito sa Lanao del Sur. At ang karamihan ay bumaba na ng Iligan," he said.

(There is nothing happening in nearby municipalities. Residents of Marawi City have evacuated to different municipalities in Lanao del Sur. The majority have gone down to Iligan.)

He also said gunshots remain confined to the city and numerous bombs are being dropped within the city proper.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez said the military now has enough troops to use "maximum power" against the Maute Group that has supported the presence of Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon in the city.

Hapilon was the target of the military raid on Tuesday, May 23. He was believed to have combined forces with the Maute Group based here to seek to establish a caliphate in Central Mindanao.

Relief goods

Adiong told dzRB that relief from the national government has been brought to Iligan and should be brought to Lanao del Sur. They will be repacked and distributed to evacuees from the capitol in Marawi City.

What they lack are medical teams since almost all doctors fled the Amai Pakpak Memorial Medical Hospital in Marawi.

"Yung mga nurses natin, nagsialisan na. Kokonti na lang ngayon ang mga doktor na nandito ngayon sa Marawi City." (Our nurses have left. There are very few doctors now in Marawi City.)

The exodus of people from Marawi has resulted in gnarled traffic. It takes from anywhere between 3 to 10 hours, Adiong said, to get from Marawi to Iligan, which is just 40 kilometers away.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also on Saturday said the government, through its Inter-Agency Task Force on Securing Energy Facilities, has "secured the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative compound," while the National Electrification Administration and LASURECO have reported that "95% of electricity service has been restored in Marawi."

He added, "This development should allay fears stirred by alarmist and untrue reports of LASURECO coming under attack. Given the gravity of the situation in Marawi City, we urge the public to remain calm and not to spread unverified or incomplete news items, even as we urge media practitioners not to report such items that can easily be misinterpreted or sensationalized." –