LEGISLATORS  QUASH IMPEACHMENT CASE AGAINST GMA

MANILA, September 1, 2005
(STAR) 09/01 10:41:30 AM (AP) - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's congressional allies dealt a major blow Wednesday to efforts to oust her, using their dominating majority-- and the opposition's absence--to toss out all three impeachment complaints against her.

Opposition legislators cried foul and warned that the country's third "people power" revolt loomed. They watched the events unfold on TV, like the rest of the country, after walking out a day earlier from the House of Representatives justice committee hearing on the complaints.

But despite clashes between riot police and anti-Arroyo demonstrators outside Congress that injured 11 protesters, there was little sign that allegations that Arroyo rigged last year's election were generating the emotions-- or masses-- that fueled the peaceful ousters of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Arroyo's predecessor, President Joseph Estrada, in 2001.

"I hope the public will receive it favorably," said pro-Arroyo Rep. Rodolfo Antonino. "If the opposition claims that this was railroaded, it was not railroaded. They were the ones who walked out."

The opposition did indeed claim it was railroaded, saying the committee hearing was a well-orchestrated sham. Pro-Arroyo lawmakers claimed the opposition was using its own theatrics, calling the walkout a desperate, premeditated attempt to trigger street protests.

Opposition spokesman Rep. Francis Escudero said the impeachment charges are now on "life support," adding: "Our country is now on life support because the issues would not be foreclosed."

The opposition held slim hopes of still getting 79 signatures-- one-third of the House-- that are needed to send the case directly to the Senate for trial. It claims it is six signatures short.

The committee vote culminated two rancorous days, starting with Tuesday's walkout. The opposition claimed the case was being killed unfairly, without getting a real hearing, on the strength of the administration dominance in the House.

Arroyo's allies first voted to exclude two of the three impeachment complaints, including one crafted by the opposition accusing her of three major offenses, including betrayal of the public trust.

That left the original complaint, which is widely considered to be the weakest-- and which the opposition claims was prepared two months ago by Arroyo allies as a safeguard against possible impeachment. Only one impeachment charge can be filed against an official in a year.

After rejecting suggestions that the complaint was legally faulty, the committee voted 49-1 that it could it not be pursued legally, in part because it would require using illegal wiretaps as evidence.

Pro-Arroyo lawmakers broke into applause, some shaking each other's hands.

The opposition fumed.

"This is the saddest day perhaps in Congress," said leftist Rep. Teodoro Casino. "This so brazen. The people have no other choice but to take to the streets because that is the only place we can resolve all these questions raised here."

TV video showed police pushing back rain-soaked protesters with fiberglass shields and hitting them with wooden truncheons, including women sprawled on the road. A protester, blood oozing from his head, was escorted away by companions. Some demonstrators fought back with stones.

Popular televangelist Eddie Villanueva, a failed presidential candidate, urged the opposition to exhaust constitutional means of pressing the charges against Arroyo, but warned that people would have no recourse but to take to the streets if the charges were dismissed on a technicality.

"If they kill this-- the fight of principled lawmakers-- today or tomorrow, in front of God and history, it's justified for the Filipino people. ... They could not be stopped from going to the court of the streets," Villanueva said.

The opposition has suffered from not having a popular, viable alternative to Arroyo. Fernando Poe Jr., a popular action film star who finished second to Arroyo in last year's election, died in December from a stroke.

Palace doubts opposition can get 79 votes for impeachment 09/01 3:18:35 PM

Malacañang thinks that the opposition's plan to get the required seventy-nine congressional votes to impeachment President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the plenary is a "pipe dream."

In a statement Thursday, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye called on the opposition to show some statemanship "as expected of honorable representatives" with the House decision to junk the impeachment complaints.

"The process was fair, free and transparent," Bunye said.

The House committee on justice dismissed last night the original impeachment complaint filed against President Arroyo by lawyer Oliver Lozano, hours after ruling that it was the only valid petition the panel should take action on and junking the opposition’s amended complaint.

The battle to oust the President through impeachment now moves to the plenary, with the opposition moving to gather the required 79 signatures to send the complaint to the Senate for trial.

Reacting to the opposition's claim that they are six votes shy of the required 79 signatories, or one-third of the House membership, needed to impeach the President and send its amended complaint to the Senate for trial, Bunye said, "Seventy-nine votes is pipe dream."

"The President’s detractors should know when to throw in the towel so that we can already get on with the real business of the people," he noted.

Likewise, he said, "We are confident that the political atmosphere would ease up in due time to enable the nation to refocus on shoring up fiscal stability, searching for energy alternatives and fighting terror."

"The political turmoil and the steeply rising prices of oil have inflicted much difficulty on the entire nation," the presidential spokesperson said.

Another legislator backs out from impeachment complaint 09/01 5:00:17 PM

Lone Nueva Vizcaya Congressman Rodolfo Q. Agbayani has withdrawn Thursday his support of the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Arroyo.

In a sworn manifestation, Agbayani said that he had withdrawn his support from the the Resolution of Endorsement to the verified Amended Complaint of Atty. Oliver O. Lozano and other co-complainants, that includes a number of members of the 13th Congress.

Agbayani cited the recent decision by the House Committee on Justice to uphold only the original Lozano complaint while likewise barring the two other impeachment complaints.

Because of this, he said would rather be considered as not having endorsed the complaint.

He likewise cited a trip abroad this Friday for the reason for his submission of the manifestation.

The House committee on justice dismissed last night the original impeachment complaint filed against President Arroyo by lawyer Oliver Lozano, hours after ruling that it was the only valid petition the panel should take action on and junking the opposition’s amended complaint.

The battle to oust the President through impeachment now moves to the plenary, with the opposition moving to gather the required 79 signatures to send the complaint to the Senate for trial.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2005  by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE