MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday hailed the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a statement, military spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said the ruling is a "vote of confidence" for the AFP.
"The AFP expresses its gratitude to the Supreme Court for allowing us to perform the fresh mandate given to us by the President and by Congress," Arevalo said in a statement.
"We would like to assure our people further that your AFP will faithfully perform its duty to protect the people and secure the state respecting human rights and international humanitarian law," he added.
Voting 10-5, the High Court on Tuesday affirmed the year-long extension of military rule in Mindanao, dismissing petitions challenging its constitutionality.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also welcomed the ruling, saying it would boost the morale of government troops.
"This will definitely heighten the morale of our defenders and allow them to better safeguard public safety in Mindanao as well as give Task Force Bangon Marawi the necessary space to undertake the unhampered rehabilitation of Marawi," he said in a statement.
ERROR IN JUDGEMENT?
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the petitioners against the extension of martial law in Mindanao, meanwhile blasted the Supreme Court ruling and insisted anew that there is no factual basis for the extension.
"The majority of the Supreme Court justices can be supreme even in their error," Lagman said in a statement.
"When the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court fall in cadence with the President and Congress in violating the Constitution, then the country is abandoned in the quagmire of tripartite derogation of the people's civil liberties," he added.
But Solicitor General Jose Calida maintained that the declaration of an extension of military rule in the restive south is necessary to curb the "existence of a real and present rebellion."
"This legal victory will significantly help not only the Armed Forces, but also other stakeholders, in putting an end to the on-going strife, and in restoring public order, safety, and stability in Mindanao," he said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte had cited remaining security threats in Mindanao in seeking another extension of martial law despite the end of hostilities in Marawi City in October.
Congress had in July voted to extend Duterte's initial 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao until December 2017, while firefights in Marawi were ongoing. Duterte declared martial rule in all of Mindanao on May 23, 2017 when violence erupted in the Islamic city.