give  up  impeach  bid,  palace  tells  opposition

JULY 9, 2006 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - Give the country a break.

Following their admission that they cannot muster the numbers in the House of Representatives for their impeachment bid against President Arroyo, Malacañang urged opposition congressmen yesterday to abandon their attempt to force her from office "and give the country a break."

Letting the impeachment effort proceed would "disrupt the economic momentum and improving stability of the country," Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio said.

"We appeal to them, quit and give the country a break," he said, describing the impeachment complaint as "rehashed, worn out" and "not supported by the public."

In a statement, Claudio said the public was not supporting the opposition’s efforts to impeach Mrs. Arroyo, saying "there is no outrage out there, nor appreciation or sympathy by the people for what (the opposition) is doing."

"Under the circumstances, when the opposition knows they do not stand a chance and they do not have the people’s support, to disrupt the economic momentum and improving stability of the country, by insisting on impeachment, is the greatest chicanery, disservice and injustice they can foist on our people," Claudio said.

"The only honorable and patriotic thing for them to do is give the country a respite from politics and allow our people to peacefully pursue growing opportunities to improve their social and economic well-being," he said.

Claudio also dismissed the opposition’s conditions for the withdrawal of the impeachment complaint when they admit that it would not prosper.

It was "silly" of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano to offer terms of their withdrawal of their case saying "you do not dictate terms when you’re beat."

"The opposition, by their own admission and demonstration, is also badly disunited and incoherent and have only themselves to blame," Claudio said.

The opposition in the House plans to vote later this month on several complaints against Mrs. Arroyo. They range from allegations that she cheated to win the May 2004 elections to accusations that she was engaged in graft and is linked to human rights abuses.

The opposition needs 78 votes to have a complaint sent directly to the opposition-dominated Senate which could then hold an impeachment trial.

Sources in the opposition camp have said they are unlikely to come up with the required votes in the House, which is dominated by Arroyo supporters.

A similar impeachment bid last year mustered only 51 votes, falling well short of the number required.

Under the Constitution, only one impeachment complaint can be filed against an official each year. The first new complaint was filed on June 26 following the expiry of the one lodged in June 2005.

The opposition has been working to oust Mrs. Arroyo since June 2005 when it released audio tapes allegedly showing that she cheated to win in the elections in the May 2004 polls.

Mrs. Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to finish her term in 2010.

Critics have warned that unless the President fully answers the allegations against her, a year-old political impasse will drag on and could force some groups to resort to a coup attempt or a people power revolt, with massive groups taking to the streets.

People power revolts have ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Mrs. Arroyo’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada, in 2001. — With AFP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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