Impeachment proceedings against Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo fell into chaos Tuesday, as opposition lawmakers walked out of a committee hearing and claimed her backers were unjustly trying to quash the case.
Some members of the House justice committee threw papers into the air as they stormed from their seats when the chairman, Rep. Simeon Datumanong, tried to cut off debate for a vote on which one of the three impeachment complaints against Arroyo should be considered.
The constitution only allows one impeachment proceeding against the same official in a year.
"Mr. Chairman, let us not railroad this hearing," opposition Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano said repeatedly before the walkout.
The opposition wanted the debate to continue, amid allegations that Arroyo wants lawmakers to endorse the first complaint the one considered weakest to boost her chances to beat allegations that she rigged last year's election.
A statement from pro-Arroyo lawmakers said the opposition's "young guns" had become "young goons." It called the walkout a desperate, premeditated attempt to trigger street protests.
"Walkout is the first option of the defeated," the statement said. "What we saw this afternoon was an attempt by the opposition to stoke the anger of the violent, provoke tumult in the streets and let the fires of anarchy serve as a smoke screen for the collapse of their cause," reports the AP.