WHILE Malacañang welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the constitutionality of the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao, rights group Karapatan criticized the ruling.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, February 6, voted 10-5 to junk the petitions seeking to lift the military rule in Mindanao.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said on Wednesday, February 7, that the Supreme Court's ruling "underscores the unity of the whole government in its bid to defeat terrorism and prevent the spread in other parts of the country of DIWW and other like-minded local and foreign terrorist groups."

Roque assured that the government would fulfill its pledge to continue securing the people from any terror threats and rehabilitating strife-torn Marawi City, which was attacked by pro-Islamic State Marawi extremists last May 23, 2017.

"The majority of votes is a manifestation of confidence on law enforcement agencies that they shall, like they had been doing before, continue to protect our people, secure Mindanao, and pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation while upholding the rule of law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law," he said.

The high court, in its decision, found "sufficient factual basis" to extend martial law and suspend the privilege of wirt of habeas corpus in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.

Karapatan, on the other hand, warned of more alleged human rights violations.

“Another year of martial law in Mindanao will no doubt create a favorable condition for the military to continue its rampage on people’s rights with impunity,” said secretary general Cristina Palabay in a Facebook post.

The group cited documented cases wherein the military allegedly "invoked martial law to harass, intimidate, and strip people of their right to expression and freedom of association."

Among these cases were the alleged violent dispersal of the strike staged by Shin Sun Workers Union on June 2, 2017, along with several support groups, in Compostela Valley.

President Rodrigo Duterte first declared a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, shortly after fighting erupted between the government and terrorists in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.

Duterte asked for and was granted by Congress a six-month extension, or until December 31, 2017.

The armed conflict in Marawi ended on October 23, 2017, or exactly five months after it broke out.

But Congress agreed to further extend martial law in Mindanao for a year, or until end-2018 to "ensure total eradication of Daesh-inspired Da'awaful Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq, other like-minded local or foreign terrorist groups, and armed lawless groups, and the communist terrorists anf their coddlers, supporters, and financiers." (SunStar Philippines)