Reprieve for top Philippines judge

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has blocked moves to dismiss the country's senior judge.

Opposition deputies in the House of Representatives want to impeach Judge Hilario Davide, because, they said, he misused public funds.

But 13 out of 14 judges at the Supreme Court said this was unconstitutional.

Observers say there is growing tension between the parliament and the country's judiciary in the run-up to next May's elections.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court said it had ruled the impeachment bid unconstitutional, because it was the second attempt against Judge Davide in a year, and the constitution does not allow multiple complaints against the same official in the same year.

Some of the lawmakers who supported the move against Judge Davide had said they would try and go ahead with the impeachment anyway, whatever the Supreme Court decision.

But President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had said the ruling should be honoured.

"We shall follow the solemn duty to uphold the decision of the high court and we shall enforce any directive issued by it," Mrs Arroyo said in a statement issued before the ruling.

"We shall do this not because the presidency is taking sides with the court, but because the constitution says so," she said.

Judge Davide has rejected allegations that he used state funds to buy cars, houses and office furnishings for himself and the other senior judges.

11/11/2003

Bron : BBC World News

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