Philippine coalition sacks member on bribery charge

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MANILA, Oct 10 (Reuters) A senior member of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's party has been sacked after an opposition lawmaker accused him of offering money to support a weak impeachment motion against her.

Rolando Puno, chairman of Arroyo's Kampi political party, said late on Tuesday he had sacked Deputy Secretary-General Francis Ver, who was accused of offering 2 million pesos (45,000 dollars) to a left-wing lawmaker.

Ver has denied the accusations.

The opposition has said the impeachment complaint appears to be an attempt by the administration to pre-empt a substantial impeachment motion against Arroyo, which is being planned.

Under law, there can only be one impeachment motion against the president in one year.

But Kampi, part of the ruling coalition, quickly distanced itself from Ver.

''This is something Kampi does not countenance,'' Puno told reporters. ''It's really shocking to all of us. There is unanimity in distancing and disavowing this kind of activity by anybody who purports to speak in the name of the party.'' Arroyo has survived two previous attempts to impeach her in 2005 and 2006. Both motions failed to gather the required one -third support in the House of Representatives.

Last week, Arroyo cancelled a 330 million dollars telecoms deal with a Chinese firm after allegations of kickbacks to government officials surfaced in an inquiry by the senate.

Benjamin Abalos, the head of the Commission on Elections, resigned after he was named in the scandal.

Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel, has also been named in the telecoms case and has been invited to a hearing at the senate on October 25.

Reuters SZ GC1007

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