Attempt to impeach Arroyo fails

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has survived a second attempt to impeach her over allegations of corruption, human rights abuses and election fraud.

After a long session, the House of Representatives voted 173-32 to dismiss the opposition's complaint against her.

The move blocked a potentially damaging trial in the Senate, which is dominated by the opposition.

But Mrs Arroyo's opponents say they will continue their efforts to have her removed from office.


"I am happy to report to our people that we just closed the impeachment case," Jose de Venecia, speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters on Thursday.

At the end of the 17-hour session, Mr de Venecia - a known ally of Mrs Arroyo - called the vote a victory for the Philippines.

There was little surprise that the vote went in favour of Mrs Arroyo, because the House of Representatives is dominated by her allies.

But that is not the case in the Senate, and if the motion had been endorsed by one-third of the lower house it would have gone to trial there, and Mrs Arroyo would have faced a much harder battle.

Even before the votes were cast, there were signs that the opposition had given up the fight.

Nine opposition members did not show up for the ballot, and two others defected to vote with the government.

But Mrs Arroyo's opponents have not given up yet. Lawmaker Ronaldo Zamora urged the president to publicly address the allegations against her.

"Answer the questions and put an end to a whole year of too many questions left unanswered, and too many solutions that will do our country no good at all," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Claims of wrong-doing

This is the second attempt to unseat Mrs Arroyo in two years.

Last year, the Philippine parliament rejected an attempt to impeach Mrs Arroyo on similar charges.

She has been dogged by allegations of vote-rigging, and also that members of her family accepted bribes.

She has denied any wrongdoing, but admitted to a "lapse in judgement" in phoning an election officer during the 2004 presidential poll.

There have been continuing protests against her, and she even declared a week-long state of emergency in February after the military quashed an alleged coup.

But analysts say that Mra Arroyo's position now looks relatively secure, helped by a buoyant economy and a divided opposition.

There are also few signs of the mass gathering that ousted two previous presidents.

Mrs Arroyo's next hurdle now appears to be congressional elections in May 2007.


Bron : BBC News

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