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Arroyo impeachment hearings on verge of collapse

[JURIST] Impeachment proceedings in the Philippines House of Representatives [official website] tottered on the verge of collapse Tuesday when lawmakers stormed out of a committee hearing, claiming supporters of President Gloria Arroyo [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder] were trying to railroad them into a decision that could doom the case against her. Under the Philippine constitution [text], only one impeachment proceeding against the same official is allowed in any given year. During debate on which of three possible complaints against Arroyo should be pursued, committee chair Rep. Simeon Datumanong [official website] tried to move directly to a vote. Amid allegations that Arroyo rigged last year's election [BBC report] and wants the committee to endorse the weakest complaint against her in order to boost her chances of being exonerated, opposition lawmakers insisted the debate should continue. The opposition, which claims over 70 members of the 236-member House, needs a total of 79 votes to impeach Arroyo and send the complaint to the Senate for trial. Pro-Arroyo legislators, who dominate the House, issued a statement calling the walkout a deliberate attempt to trigger street protests. Review the rules of procedure [PDF] for Philippine impeachment hearings. From Manila, ABS-CBN News has more.

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