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Philippine President Survives Second Impeachment Attempt


Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has escaped the latest attempt by opponents to unseat her, after lawmakers voted down an impeachment motion in the House of Representatives.

The lower house of the Philippines Congress Thursday morning overwhelmingly voted against the impeachment complaint, which accused President Arroyo of corruption, human rights abuses and voting fraud in the 2004 election.

After a 17 hour overnight debate, House Speaker Jose de Venecia declared the result.

"I am happy to announce to the House and to the Filipino nation, the results is as follows: Affirmative 173, negative 32, abstention one," he said.

The president has been dogged by criticism since she took office in 2001 on an anti-corruption platform.

Mrs. Arroyo escaped a similar impeachment complaint last year, following allegations of vote rigging in the 2004 presidential election. She denied wrongdoing but admitted that phoning an election official during the poll was a "lapse of judgment".

Protests against her continued and in February she declared a brief state of emergency in response to an alleged coup plot.

But Miriam Coronel Ferrer, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila, says Mrs. Arroyo currently enjoys support in Congress and is in no danger of losing her job. She says, though, that public support for the president may dwindle during the remaining four years of her term.

"It's like a cloud of doubt that's going to stay there, even though it might not create a very big momentum to force her out of power before the end of her term," she said. "It's something that's going to be hanging on her presidency that will remain there even after her term."

The opposition in the Philippines has in the past resorted to massive street demonstrations to change the government. So called "people power" protests ousted former presidents Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

Ferrer does not expect a repeat of these demonstrations, saying the opposition is seeking lasting political reforms rather than a rapid change in power. And, she says, most Filipinos are more concerned about making a living than taking down a president.

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