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Philippine bishops reject fresh move to impeach Arroyo.

MANILA, July 10 Kyodo

Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines rejected Monday opposition moves to impeach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over corruption and electoral fraud allegations.

Although the bishops said they are ''undoubtedly for the search for truth,'' the members of the influential Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said the impeachment complaints filed by the opposition last month are laden with vested interests.

''We are not inclined at the present moment to favor the impeachment process as the means for establishing the truth,'' the bishops said in a pastoral statement.

The bishops said the process and its rules, as well as the mindset of all participating parties both pro and con, must be guided by no other motive than genuine concern for the common good.

Otherwise, they said, impeachment will ''once again serve as an unproductive political exercise, dismaying every citizen and deepening citizens' negative perception of politicians left, right and center.''

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye lauded the bishops' position, saying impeachment ''is not the way toward change and resolution in our current political concerns.''

A bishop is among the complainants in this year's impeachment move against Arroyo.

The 86-member bishops' conference met behind closed door over the weekend to discuss a string of controversial issues buffeting the Philippines, including the moves to impeach Arroyo and others to rewrite the Constitution.

Parliament last year rejected an opposition move to impeach Arroyo after the opposition failed to get the endorsement of 79 lawmakers in the House of Representatives to kick off an impeachment trial in the Senate.

The opposition managed to gather only 51 votes, 28 short of the required votes to elevate the complaint to the Senate.

Last year, the opposition also failed to get the support of the bishops who also rejected calls to oust Arroyo.

They did, however, urge Arroyo to heed the charges against her.

The failure of the opposition to get the nod of the influential bishops is seen to weaken moves to unseat Arroyo.

At least 81 percent of the country's 85 million people are Roman Catholics.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jul 10, 2006
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