Philippine opposition tries to revive Arroyo impeachment

Philippine opposition politicians tried on Wednesday to salvage their flagging attempt to impeach President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as her allies in a Congress committee prepared to reject their complaints.

The opposition, which walked out of the impeachment hearing on Tuesday complaining the process was being railroaded, made a last-ditch appeal for the extra six votes it says it needs to impeach Arroyo over allegations of electoral fraud and graft.

Former Arroyo ally Edmund Reyes, the only pro-impeachment Congressman to attend the committee on Wednesday, said 73 lawmakers had agreed to vote against Arroyo and appealed for others to come forward to help them reach the needed 79.

"Is there no one else?" he asked.

"Is there anyone else signing this for truth?"

Arroyo's allies in the committee are expected to endorse the weakest of three impeachment complaints against her on Wednesday, before quickly rejecting it as inadequate.

The only option for the opposition then would be to muster the one-third of lower house votes needed to override the committee and trigger a trial of Arroyo in the Senate, reports Reuters.

According to AP, the committee ruled that the first complaint effectively excluded the second and third complaints from consideration. The Lozano complaint, which accused Arroyo of cheating in last year's presidential election, is widely considered the easiest to refute.

The two later complaints, backed by opposition lawyers, include additional charges of links to illegal gambling operations and human rights abuses.

Opposition legislators walked out of the committee hearing Tuesday, as it became apparent that the majority of legislators planned to vote that only the first complaint be heard. Even the opposition has said it expects Arroyo to be cleared if only the one charge is taken up.

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