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Marcos beats back impeachment attempt

President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines survived an opposition attempt to impeach him last night. A parliamentary committee dominated by his Movement for a New Society (KBL) party rejected a resolution accusing him of graft, high crimes, and abuse of office. The KBL, using its large majority in the 183-member National Assembly, had referred the issue to the committee after opposition members formally filed the resolution calling for the President's impeachment.

The Committee on Justice, Human Rights, and Good Government rejected the opposition resolution for lack of merit.

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Opposition members of the committee walked out, declaring the proceedings ``a useless farce.''

The resolution and committee report will go back to the assembly for formal rejection, although the opposition might try to revive it.

The resolution had accused Marcos, among other things, of ``amassing an enormous fortune [by] plundering the nation's wealth'' and of violating the Constitution. It was signed by 56 of the 57 opposition members of parliament.

``This is a historic moment,'' Homobono Adaza, a leader of the impeachment campaign, had told reporters.

A ``verified complaint,'' signed by 52 members and filed with the resolution, accused Mr. Marcos of culpable violation of the constitution, high crimes, and graft and corruption. Mr. Adaza said charges included allegations of holding ``secret wealth'' in the United States and elsewhere.

But the ruling party, with 112 of the 183 elected assembly seats, filed a motion denouncing the impeachment move as ``a product of unsubstantiated news reports, irresponsible speculations, and gossip.'' KBL leaders accused the opposition of ``playing partisan politics'' against the national interest.

In the face of the impeachment threat, Marcos and the KBL had been considering the possibility of his resigning and calling an early presidential election (his present six-year term expires in 1987) or dissolving the assembly. Marcos was said to be worried that the opposition move might undermine foreign confidence in him, his government's economic recovery program, and his anti-insurgency campaign.

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He has been in power for nearly 20 years -- almost half the time that the Philippines has been independent -- and he ruled by martial law from 1972 to 1981.

Deputy Prime Minister Jos'e Rono told reporters: ``The members do not really mean to impeach Marcos. Their motivation is clear. They want to convict the President by publicity. We will have to go through certain procedures,'' he said.

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