The house voted 173 to 32 with one abstention on Thursday to uphold a ruling last week by its justice committee to dismiss the impeachment complaint against Gloria Arroyo on a technicality.

The vote in the lower house of parliament dominated by Arroyo's political allies means the complaint will not reach trial in the Senate, the upper house dominated by her political opponents.

Sensing defeat, nine opposition politicians did not show up for the ballot and two others defected to vote in favour of abandoning the impeachment complaint. A total of 30 were missing from the vote.

"I am happy to report to our people that we just closed the impeachment case," Jose de Venecia, speaker of the House of Representatives and a close Arroyo ally, said.

"The people want the country to move forward."

Surviving

Since coming to power in 2001, Arroyo has regularly had to defeat attempts to unseat her, including a similar impeachment vote last year and several failed coups.

However, with a divided and disorganised opposition and a public tired of continual political instability, scandal and plot rumours, she may be in her strongest position for some time as she seeks to see out her term in office due to end in 2010.

The next opportunity for the opposition to reduce the support Arroyo enjoys in the House of Representatives is in congressional elections in May.

Debate is also expected to start soon on a proposal to switch from a US-style presidential system with a bicameral congress to a parliamentary system amid calls to end the constant political instability.