Corona, left, the first chief justice to be impeached in the Philippines, has vowed to fight back [AFP]

The Philippine House of Representatives has impeached the country's supreme court chief justice over alleged corruption and favoritism toward arrested ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

A majority of the 284 members of the lower chamber of congress signed a resolution on Monday to impeach Renato Corona, who will now be tried by the senate in an impeachment tribunal. 

The move is the latest development in the political row between Arroyo and Benigno Aquino, her successor, who has blamed the former president for a series of corruption scandals that eroded public trust in the government and repelled foreign investors.

Aquino has been at odds with Corona, accusing him of favouring Arroyo, who appointed the supreme court chief justice shortly before she stepped down last year at the end of her nine years in power.

Corona, the only known supreme court chief to be impeached in Philippine history, vowed to fight back against the allegations.

He said efforts to illegally oust him from his post would undermine the country's democracy.

"We do not want to see a constitutional crisis befall our democracy," Corona said. "But if we are challenged to defend our independence, we shall not meekly walk away."

Aquino, son of revered democracy icons, succeeded Arroyo in June last year after a landslide elections victory largely credited to his campaign promise to battle corruption and poverty in his southeast Asian country.

His allies now dominate the powerful house of representatives, which used to be the bedrock of Arroyo's power.

Source: Agencies