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Published: Wed, July 05, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Duterte says he was right to place entire Mindanao under martial law

Duterte says he was right to place entire Mindanao under martial law

In the Philippines, the Supreme Court today endorsed President Rodrigo Duterte's enforcement of martial law across the southern part of the country.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the top court ruled to dismiss the petitions filed by the opposition lawmakers and two other groups.

All 15 justices have circulated their respective opinions, whether concurring or dissenting, and "all opinions will be finalized and submitted by Wednesday", the SC briefer said.

The petitioners argued the siege did not constitute a rebellion that could justify martial rule which might foster human rights abuses in a country that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a 1986 revolt for massive rights violations.

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.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters that troops may be able to recapture the last few areas held by the militants in a week but he added that if the gunmen "fight to the last, then it will be longer".

Members of the Senate minority bloc urged the Palace to listen to the three justices who voted to limit the scope of martial law. "With the Supreme Court decision, the whole government now stands together as one against a common enemy". The groups had just come from a rally at the US Embassy protesting US intervention on the occasion of the Fil-Am Friendship Day. The President, he said, should now use the support of the High Court and Congress to fix the situation in Mindanao.

"It is of no surprise to us that the Supreme Court upheld and validated the President's proclamation of martial law in the entire of Mindanao".

"I'm relieved that the Supreme Court upheld the declaration of martial law in Mindanao so that the government security forces can continue their pursuit and clearing operations against the terrorist without a cloud of doubt on their mandate to do so", Zubiri said.

"We must not let our guards down against the emergence of terrorism and banditry in the area", Duterte said.

Under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus only "in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it".

"I can only hope that none of our Senate colleagues will call the magistrates lapdogs and cowards of the administration", he said.

Duterte commended the troops in Marawi and saluted them for their relentless effort and determination in retaking the city from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf local terror groups.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed and said there could be no other decision.

"Whatever the issue, Congress legislates, the Executive implements and the Judiciary rules on questions of law and fact", Honasan said. Gregorio T. Honasan II pointed out the SC ruling showed that "this is Philippine pluralistic democracy at work".

"We have to ask what it has accomplished relative to the problem of terrorism in Mindanao, what was its impact, was it effective or not and why it is necessary moving forward and what are the other options if not martial law", Villanueva said.

The President added that martial law should have been declared in Mindanao "a long time ago", citing the string of violent incidents that have plagued the region.

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