Seven of the eight impeachment complaints filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were thrown out yesterday, only hours after the congress committee on justice started its hearings. The justice committee, controlled by the ruling Lakas Party, voted 54-24 that the first seven complaints - filed between June and early July - were filed too early and therefore invalid. The constitution bans the filing of fresh impeachment complaints against the same government official within a year. Only the eighth complaint fell outside the one-year limit, but only just. It was filed on July 28 this year, a year and a day after the initial complaint was lodged. The committee started to debate yesterday on whether this latest complaint was sufficient 'in form and substance', Congressman Edcel Lagman said. It was filed by the so-called Black and White Movement made up of former Arroyo cabinet ministers who resigned en masse last year. Outnumbered opposition members on the committee were pessimistic the impeachment would proceed. 'They [Lakas Party] mean to kill the impeachment bid,' House minority floor leader Francis Escudero said. House majority floor leader Prospero Nograles, the Lakas Party whip, did not deny plans to quash all eight impeachment complaints filed by members of the civil society, academe, clergy and leftist organisations. But Mr Nograles said: 'The fact is that it is not the majority that is out to finish [the opposition's] impeachment complaints. 'It is [the minority's] failure to get the required support, endorsement and the votes of the required number as provided by the constitution that will kill it.' The ruling Lakas Party controls the 234-member lower house of Congress. The opposition needs to muster 78 votes - or one-third of the House - to force Mrs Arroyo to stand trial. A similar impeachment bid failed last year when the opposition gathered only 51 votes. Many of those who had promised to vote with them changed their minds after obtaining development funds released by the executive branch. The eighth impeachment complaint accuses Mrs Arroyo of, among other things, diverting 728 million pesos (HK$109.8 million) in tax money intended for purchasing fertiliser to her lawmaker-allies during the 2004 presidential campaign. The complaint also accused her of rigging her 2004 poll victory. Last month, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the church governing body, refused to back the impeachment, saying it would only be 'an unproductive political exercise, dismaying every citizen, and deepening the citizen's negative perception of politicians, left, right and centre'. But in a recent survey, private pollster Pulse Asia Inc said 56 per cent of Filipinos favoured Mrs Arroyo's impeachment as 'the best way' to address questions over her legitimacy and alleged corruption. Some 43 per cent were against the impeachment. The survey covered 1,200 respondents between June 24 and July 8.