World

Supreme Court upholds martial law in Mindanao

MANILA: The Philippines' Supreme Court yesterday endorsed President Rodrigo Duterte's enforcement of martial law across the southern third of the country, which he had said was necessary to defeat militants backed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Mr Duterte imposed military rule across Mindanao on May 23, hours after hundreds of gunmen waving black ISIS flags occupied parts of Marawi City and triggered deadly clashes that are yet to end.

An overwhelming majority of the justices dismissed that petition, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters yesterday, although he did not give reasons for their decision.

Militants continue to occupy parts of Marawi, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic country, despite a United States-backed military offensive there that has claimed more than 460 lives and displaced nearly 400,000 people.

Mr Duterte said when he declared martial law that the militants had attacked Marawi as part of a plan to establish a province for ISIS in the southern Philippines.

It is limited initially to 60 days. If Mr Duterte wants to extend it, he must get congressional approval.

He had threatened to ignore the court if it ruled against him, saying: "They are not soldiers. They do not know what is happening on the ground."

On Monday, he warned martial law could continue beyond 60 days. - AFP

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