Manila (AsiaNews) The Justice Committee of the Filipino House of Representatives has rejected demands to impeach President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The looming political crisis is thus removed but the opposition announced that it will table a motion before the Senate to dismiss the members of the Justice Committee and drag the President before a joint session of Congress to hear complaints against her. But for many observers, this is going to be difficult to do.
Before the congressmen deliberated on August 30, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches led a 10 am mass at St Peter Church, near the House of Representatives complex. In his homily he prayed for a quick resolution to the impeachment proceedings and appealed directly to some lawmakers at the mass to "end this crisis as soon as possible," saying people "are not stupid" and will form "their own judgment." He also called on Arroyo to "soften" her heart and "listen to the sentiments of the people."
Later, in the afternoon, the House Justice Committee determined, by a 49-1 vote, that the Lozano complaint they had admitted the day before was sufficient in form but lacking in substance. Therefore, in principle, the President won't have to resign.
Some pro-impeachment groups however have announced that they are organising street protests against the committee's decision, but less than a thousand people turned up at two rallies yesterday.
Also yesterday, the president of the Federation of Filipino Industries, Jesus Arranza, expressed fears the economy would suffer from demonstrations, which are mostly held in Makati City, the country's financial centre, a town run by an opposition mayor known for his outspoken criticism of the President.