Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Philippine groups attempt presidential impeachment

AP , MANILA

Left-wing groups said yesterday they will accuse President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of condoning political killings and violating the Constitution to muzzle legitimate dissent in a new impeachment case they plan to file next week.

The new charges will be added to allegations of vote-rigging and corruption that were part of an impeachment complaint that was dismissed by the House of Representatives last year on a technicality.

The Constitution allows only one impeachment proceeding against a president in a year, and opposition lawmakers and anti-Arroyo groups said last month they would file a new complaint after the current one-year limit ends on Monday.

Among the complainants will be relatives of dozens of left-wing activists and human rights workers who have been killed since Arroyo took power in an alarming wave of attacks they have blamed on the military or police, said Renato Reyes, a proponent of the new impeachment bid.

Military and police officials have denied the accusations and challenged their accusers to produce evidence and file cases in court. Arroyo has ordered an investigation into the killings.

"We will charge her at the least for inaction and at most for condoning this policy of political killings," Reyes said.

Left-wing groups and relatives of slain activists will hold a vigil outside the sprawling House of Representatives compound starting on Sunday ahead of the filing of the new impeachment complaint the following day, he said.

Opposition lawmakers said they will also charge Arroyo for attempts -- later judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court -- to crack down on anti-government protests and block investigations into alleged wrongdoing.

Rivals have warned that unless Arroyo fully answers the allegations against her, a yearlong political impasse will drag on and could force some groups to resort to a coup attempt or a "people power" revolt like those that have ousted two Philippine leaders.

While refusing to quit, Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing but has not answered the allegations in detail. Her lawyer said on Wednesday he will ask the House to dismiss any new impeachment bid.

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