Manila, July 4 (IANS) The Philippines Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the martial law declared in Mindanao region, dismissing petitions seeking to challenge the declaration by President Rodrigo Duterte.
On May 23, Duterte declared martial law for 60 days on Mindanao and nearby island provinces after extremists linked to Islamic State (IS) laid siege to Marawi city, reports Xinhua news agency.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that with the Supreme Court decision, the whole government now stands together as one against the common enemy.
“We ask the public to give their full support and cooperation to local authorities,” Abella said
In a message to the troops on Tuesday, Duterte enjoined the operating troops “to carry on until our objective of wiping out these enemies and the people has been achieved”.
“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.
The President added that the people of Marawi need the assistance of the troops as they rebuild their lives and homes once the military operations end.
Fighting continues to completely retake the besieged city. So far, at least 461 people have been killed — 337 terrorists, 39 civilians and 85 soldiers and policemen.
According to Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the military is yet to clear about 1,500 houses and buildings in the city’s central business district where most of the remaining IS fighters were holed up.