With the opposition boycotting, a Philippine congressional committee voted yesterday to endorse what is considered the weakest impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and quash two others.
The vote, perceived as a victory for Arroyo in her battle against allegations that she rigged last year's election, came amid a struggle for public opinion as her detractors talked about unfair tactics - and the prospects of another "people power" revolt like those which have ousted two presidents in the last two decades.
"This is the saddest day perhaps in Congress," said Representative 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."
Arroyo's allies denied they were trying to kill the case completely.
"The pro-impeachment colleagues of ours still have a chance" to press the case, said Representative Rodolfo Antonino, reports Taipei Times.
According to Philippine Star, the House committee on justice killed the opposition’s impeachment charges of "lying, cheating and stealing" against Mrs. Arroyo.
Voting 50-4 with one abstention, the committee decided to throw out the opposition’s amended complaint on the grounds that it had been barred by the first and original impeachment petition filed by Lozano last June 27.
The panel ruled the Lozano petition was the one complaint that should be considered and which initiated the impeachment process, giving the accused, Mrs. Arroyo, a one-year protection from any other impeachment charges, including those leveled by the President’s political opponents.
The President’s impeachment lawyer Romulo Macalintal welcomed the justice committee’s decision and said it was time to move on.
"We just hope the deliberations will proceed now so we can move on. The opposition can do whatever it wants and we will respect them as long as they act within legal means," he said.
The committee made the decision to ignore the amended complaint a day after it voted 54-2 to treat it as a separate petition and not just an amendatory pleading to the original Lozano complaint.
Impeachment petitioners and endorsers walked out of Tuesday’s hearing and boycotted yesterday’s proceedings, denouncing what they called the "game plan" of the President’s allies to kill not only their amended petition but all impeachment complaints before Mrs. Arroyo leaves for Saudi Arabia and New York next week.