Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was caught off guard on Tuesday when her press secretary prayed for a possible extension of her term beyond 2010 as lawmakers debated on an impeachment complaint against her, reported dpa.
Arroyo and her cabinet often start their meetings with a prayer, which is led by different officials.
But the prayer by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza shocked Arroyo for touching on a sensitive political issue, with many critics warning of alleged plans for the president to hold on to power beyond the end of her term in 2010.
"We pray for the president, that she may have forbearance, good health and tolerance to lead this nation until 2010, and who knows, perhaps even beyond," Dureza said.
Arroyo was seen covering her face and said, "Oh my God," after hearing Dureza's prayer. The surprised expression on her face quickly turned into a glare.
The cabinet meeting was held as the House of Representatives committee on justice found an impeachment complaint against Arroyo to be "sufficient in form" in the first hurdle in a political process that could lead to her ouster.
The House committee still needs to find the complaint "sufficient in substance" before debates will reach the plenary, where a vote of one-third of the entire House will be enough to impeach Arroyo and send the case for trial to the Senate.
The complaint, the fourth against Arroyo since 2004, was filed by the son of an estranged political ally who accused Arroyo and her husband of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from a Chinese firm in a deal with the government.