Malacañang assured that the government’s priority is the safety of the public amid the conflict in Marawi.

In his regular Mindanao Hour briefing over Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella stressed that the Palace would look into the situation involving the general public’s safety in determining when to lift martial law.

He also said the Executive branch hoped that the conflict would end very soon.

“The Executive branch wishes for all of this to end as soon as possible. However po, ang bottomline pa rin po ng martial law is public safety. Public safety as mandated by the Constitution,” Abella said.

“The provision of the Palace will be benchmarked po upon the agreement on whether or not public safety is already sufficiently guaranteed,” he said.

Abella noted that the terror group continued to use civilians as human shields while mosques were used as staging areas and safe havens.

“Therefore, the schedule po for the lifting of martial law is whether or not it is already totally, completely guaranteed or sufficiently guaranteed for the safety of the general public or not,” Abella said.

“So hindi po natin binibigyan ng timeline ‘yan. Ang atin pong indicator ay whether safe na po talaga ang publiko,” he added.

According to Abella, there were seven more individuals rescued in Marawi.

“This is a significant development. And then patuloy po ang recovery and control of more strategic vantage points by advancing troops,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abella said the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo was closely monitoring the situation following the collision of US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.

“The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo is closely monitoring the situation in coordination with Japanese and US authorities after a US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan,” Abella said.

He also gave assurance that the Philippine Embassy is ready to extend all necessary assistance to Filipino seamen onboard the ship. (PND/PNA)