The Philippines' top court on Tuesday upheld President Rodrigo Duterte's martial law declaration in the southern third of the country, dismissing petitions to nullify it.
Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said 11 of 15 justices voted to dismiss the consolidated petitions filed by opposition lawmakers, activist groups and four women from Marawi — the southern city where an attack by Islamic State-aligned militants prompted Duterte to declare martial law on May 23.
Te said three of the justices voted to partially grant the petitions while one voted to grant them. Details of the justices' vote were not immediately known, with Te saying the justices' draft opinions will be finalized and submitted Wednesday.
The petitioners said Duterte's proclamation had no sufficient factual basis, since there was no rebellion or invasion as defined by the constitution. They also said martial law will inevitably result in violation of human rights.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella welcomed the decision, saying Duterte will not waver in his commitment to end rebellion, the evil of terrorism and to liberate Marawi.
"As the conscience of our nation, the Supreme Court did not sit idly to watch our country get dismembered," said Solicitor General Jose Calida, who argued in court for the government.
"We were hoping the Supreme Court would be our last line of defense against a patently absurd decision built on a failure of intelligence and a rhetoric of violent machismo," said Machris Cabreros, president of the Akbayan political party, whose officers were among the petitioners. "Instead they caved in and unwittingly opened the door to further creeping authoritarianism."
Riot police briefly shoved some 80 protesters who marched to the gate of the court, carrying placards that read "Lift martial law now" and "Stop the bombings."