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05 July 2017, 12:26 | Maryann Sutton
The Philippines' Supreme Court on Tuesday (July 4) endorsed President Rodrigo Duterte's enforcement of martial law across the southern third of the country, which he said was necessary to defeat ISIS group-backed militants.
The court ruling effectively nullified petitions filed by opposition lawmakers, activist groups and four women from Marawi, the beleaguered city that has been under siege by Islamic State-inspired militants from the Maute group since late May.
The high court voted 11-3-1, with the majority affirming martial law, while three justices voted to partially grant the petitions, or to limit Duterte's Proclamation 216 only to the conflict area in Marawi.
All justices wrote separate concurring or dissenting opinions, to be submitted today, Wednesday.
"I urge you to remain steadfast and alert as martial law in Mindanao will remain in effect to counter the persistent threat of terrorism and insurgency", he said.
They also alleged that a key element in act of rebellion-culpable goal of removing allegiance from the Philippines and preventing the President and legislature from exercising their functions-was not present in the attack of the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City last May 23 that triggered martial law proclamation.
Martial law will stay until the last terrorist is dead, the President told reporters in Bulacan.
For Representatives Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list, Aniceto Bertiz of ACTS-OFW party-list and Karlo Nograles of Davao City, the Supreme Court ruling was a resounding affirmation of the President's powers under the Constitution.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said the decision of the high tribunal came as no surprise because the President's declaration was valid. "We could expect an emboldened military and police to commit more human rights violations and further endanger the lives of our people not just in Marawi but the whole of Mindanao".
"It's not dependent on the whim of the Supreme Court", he said.
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Before Duterte, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also declared martial law in 2009, in response to a massacre of 58 people in the province of Maguindanao.
Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, for his part, said: "Let's focus on giving displaced Filipino families the support they need and be ready to pour all efforts to rebuilding Marawi, reestablishing our schools, and creating jobs and livelihood for the community".
Eleven justices sided with Duterte, three agreed with martial law within a limited area, and only one dissented during an en banc (full court) session, as predicted by The Manila Times.
Lacson was referring to Sen.
He said the terrorists could easily go to other places in Mindanao and wreak havoc.
The senator, meanwhile, expressed hope that none of his colleagues would call the magistrates "lapdogs and cowards of the administration".
Calida, who represented the government's side during the June 14 oral arguments, said the high court's decision validating President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation No. 216 is in line with the President's goals of "protecting the country's sovereingty and territorial integrity".
Sen. Gringo Honasan, for his part, described the SC decision as "Philippine pluralistic democracy at work".
Seventeen of 23 senators earlier signed a resolution supporting Duterte's proclamation of military rule, saying there was no "compelling reason" to revoke it.
Honasan pointed out that flaws in politics and democracy in its worst forms are much better than no rules which is anarchy noting that "everything else is procedural".
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