Philippine opposition in tug-of-war over Arroyo impeachment

Philippine lawmakers seeking the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Friday they are locked in a tug-of-war with her congressional allies to gather supporters for impeachment.

"You have to bear in mind that we are up against the highest and most powerful official in the country," said minority leader Rep. Francis Escudero.

Arroyo's allies in the committee on justice of the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to throw out all three impeachment complaints against her.

The opposition boycotted the proceedings after walking out Tuesday, claiming the administration majority was railroading them.

Arroyo is accused of rigging last year's election and of bribery, corruption and other crimes in her worst-ever political crisis. She has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to resign.

The committee's decision to throw out the impeachment complaints could be overturned if the opposition gets at least 79 lawmakers one-third of the House to vote against it as early as Monday, and send a complaint directly to the Senate for trial, reports the AP.

According to Philippine Star, Escudero told a news conference that the "methodical railroading" of all three impeachment complaints by the committee on justice on Wednesday has "hurt and scandalized" many members of the chamber.

"These members have approached us and expressed their intention to endorse our amended complaint or vote with us in rejecting the decision of the justice committee," he said.

The House, in plenary session, is expected to vote on the committee report dismissing all three complaints and ending the impeachment process on Monday. The committee is chaired by Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, a former Arroyo justice secretary and later public works secretary.

As Escudero was holding the news conference, Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Agbayani withdrew his endorsement of the amended complaint. Agbayani belongs to the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino faction led by party president Sen. Edgardo Angara.

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