Philippines: Top court backs Duterte’s martial law declaration in majority vote
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Philippines: Top court backs Duterte’s martial law declaration in majority vote

THE Philippines’ top court on Tuesday affirmed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, setting aside his opposition’s bid to invalidate it.

Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said in a press briefing that 11 out of 15 justices, in a majority vote, upheld the president’s declaration across Mindanao, ABS-CBN News reported.

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.

Three of the justices, Te said, voted to partially grant the petitions while only one voted in favour of them. Te added the grounds of their decisions would be finalised and submitted on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Philippines: Duterte threatens to jail martial law critics

Following the ruling, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the court’s decision to affirm the declaration proves there is a “real and present” rebellion in southern Philippines.

Praising the decision, Calida said the judiciary has shown it “is one with the President in protecting and defending our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“The monumental decision of the Supreme Court affirming Proclamation No. 216 underscores the existence of a real and present rebellion that threatens the lives of our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao, and their much-cherished liberties,” Calida said in a statement.

“As the conscience of our nation, the Supreme Court did not sit idly [by] to watch our country get dismembered.”

SEE ALSO: Then and now: Why Duterte’s martial law is nothing like Ferdinand Marcos’

Back in May, Duterte declared 60 days of martial law in the island of Mindanao while the government battles Maute group militants, raising fears of a return to the country’s authoritarian past under Ferdinand Marcos. He had previously suggested he would ignore the Supreme Court’s decision.

Now in its seventh week, fighting in Muslim-majority Marawi City has displaced more than 200,000 people. The government says 303 terrorists have been killed to date, along with 82 government troops and 44 civilians.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claims it is close to defeating the rebel fighters.