[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Arroyo impeachment charge dropped
Leftist protesters burn pictures of the Philippine president Gloria Arroyo in a protest outside the House of Representatives in Manila 31 August 2005.
The decision sparked furious protests
The Philippines Congress has thrown out all three impeachment complaints against President Gloria Arroyo.

The ruling means that opposition efforts to impeach her over allegations she rigged last year's election look extremely unlikely to succeed.

They have one last chance of impeaching her if they can win enough support in the House of Representatives by Monday, but they admit they are not confident.

Mrs Arroyo faced accusations of corruption and electoral fraud.

She denied any wrongdoing but admitted to a "lapse in judgement" in phoning an election officer during the 2004 presidential poll.

She maintained, however, that she was not trying to influence the results of the vote.


"The three complaints have in effect been dismissed," House of Representatives Speaker and Arroyo ally Jose de Venecia said on Wednesday.

A congressional committee voted 49-1 to quash the claims against the president, in a hearing boycotted by opposition members who claimed their case was being unfairly kyboshed as a result of the government's parliamentary dominance.

Mrs Arroyo's allies first voted to exclude the strongest two of the three impeachment complaints, which left a complaint alleging she betrayed public trust through rigging the May 2004 election.

But then the committee voted to abandon that claim as well, saying it was sufficient in form but lacking in "substance".

"I hope the public will receive it favourably," Arroyo supporter Rodolfo Antonino said of the result.
Accused of using position to influence 2004 poll
Husband accused of influence-peddling and taking bribes
Son and brother-in-law also implicated
Family denies all allegations
"If the opposition claims that this was railroaded, it was not railroaded. They were the ones who walked out," he told the Associated Press.

Opposition lawmaker Teodoro Casino had a very different view. "This is the saddest day perhaps in Congress," he said.

"This so brazen," he told the Associated Press. "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."

Opposition head Francis Escudero said he would now try to win the support of a third of the 236 members of the House of Representatives - the minimum number required to overturn the committee's ruling.

If he managed to reach this level of support by Monday, it would compel the House to ask the Senate [upper house] to consider the charges against Mrs Arroyo.

"We're hopeful but not confident," Mr Escudero told the French news agency AFP. The opposition claims it is currently six votes short.

Hundreds of anti-Arroyo activists clashed with police outside Congress on Wednesday, angry at the prospect of the president escaping impeachment charges.

But although such protests have been frequent, even the largest anti-Arroyo rally has fallen far short of the hundreds of thousands that joined the "people power" uprisings that overthrew President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

Congress debates Arroyo's fate
23 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Arroyo announces poll fraud probe
19 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Thousands march against Arroyo
13 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Embattled Arroyo refuses to quit
10 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Gloria Arroyo's toughest week
30 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Gloria Arroyo
27 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific