GMA: IMPEACH COMPLAINT A DISTRACTION

Malacanang, June 8, 2003 (Star) President Arroyo said yesterday she would not allow a legal challenge to her presidency distract her from doing her job in the remaining 11 months of her term.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada last week asked Congress to impeach Supreme Court judges who ratified his ouster following a military-backed popular uprising in 2001, saying they colluded with Mrs. Arroyo to illegally remove him from power.

In a public appeal aired from a military hospital where he is detained, Estrada also urged voters to reclaim the presidency he claims Arroyo had "stolen" from him.

Estrada theoretically faces the death penalty if convicted on charges of massive corruption.

Mrs. Arroyo, however, said the impeachment move was a "distraction from what we are supposed to be focused on jobs, security, law and order and fighting poverty."

"It is absurd to think that such questions of legitimacy could still have a destabilizing effect on the administration," Mrs. Arroyo said in a statement.

"This is not what we are concerned about but rather the unproductive diversion of public focus from the more vital issues that are important to the lives of our people," she added.

She said she was leaving the impeachment bid in the hands of the House of Representatives, whose leaders had said they would not be able to act on the complaint until after July.

For his party, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the impeachment process is unlikely to progress in the House at this time.

"Di gagalaw yan for the time being," Bunye said, noting that Congress is now in recess and will open its third and final regular session on July 28.

Mrs. Arroyo shocked her party mates when she announced late last year she would not contest the presidency in the May 2004 polls so she could concentrate on her job free from political pressure. AFP, Mayen Jaymalin


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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