Skip to comments.Philppines pays for pullout from Iraq
Posted on 07/16/2004 4:36:22 PM PDT by NCjim
As the 51-member Philippine humanitarian contingent in Iraq began on Wednesday to pack up and go one month before their due time to leave, their government has begun facing the fallout effects from this decision.
Damage partnership with US?
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has been away from spotlight in the past two day, still remained silent Wednesday after the US government voiced its regret and confusion about the Philippines' decision to pull out from Iraq as a way to solve the hostage crisis.
"We are disappointed by the Philippine Deputy Foreign Secretary's announcement that his country's troop contingent would be pulling out 'as soon as possible' at a time when the new Iraqi government is fighting for peace and stability," the US embassy inManila said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The remarks echoed an earlier statement by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who said: "We certainly noted the remarks and are disappointed to see remarks like this."
The US government is still expecting the Philippine counterpart to clarify on "exactly what this announcement might mean in terms of their withdrawal," he said.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged the Philippines to reverse its pullout decision for saving the hostage.
"If countries give in to terrorists it will only encourage themto kidnap more hostages in an attempt to change the foreign policy of countries. Australia could not and would never do that," he said.
Iraq's interim government also described as "unfortunate" the decision of the Philippine government.
"It will be read in Iraq in a very negative way... it will be giving in to terrorists," Iraq's interim National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said.
Although no surprise should be felt about the US reaction, the Philippine government may feel pressured to find a ways to mend the possible damages to its relations with the US and Australia, which could result from this decision.
Blow up terrorists' arrogance?
As White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, the decision of the Philippine government to withdraw its 51-strong troops ahead of schedule "would send the wrong signal to terrorists."
By kidnapping and threatening to behead nationals from countries participating in the US-led coalition, Iraqi militants clearly hope to achieve the goal of driving out as many as possible those foreign occupation troops in Iraq.
One of the two Bulgarian trunk drivers, whom were kidnapped days after de la Cruz was seized, was beheaded Tuesday in a "gruesome" way, reported Arabic TV station al-Jazeera on Wednesday.The beheading coincided with the announcement by the Philippine government on its own pullout.
Because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are working in Iraq and other Middle East countries, their presence is also feared to become an easy target by militants in future, if the militants want to blackmail more the Manila government.
"The millions of Filipino overseas workers, especially those working in the Middle East, would be vulnerable to similar actionsfrom the numerous Islamic terrorist groups who would now see Filipino workers as an easy target if they want to force the Philippine government to do anything," said a Filipino columnist, Alvin Capino.
"If we cave in just the same, then other Filipinos will be in danger of being made into sacrificial lambs," he added.
Currently, the Department of Labor and Employment is reportedlyexerting all efforts to ensure the safe return of Filipinos stranded in Iraq.
According to the department, the 10 Filipinos are part of the convoy of truck drivers composed of various nationalities. They were intercepted by the captors of de la Cruz on July 5 near Fallujah on their way to Baghdad, had made to flee but remained marooned ever since.
Philippine Special Envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu receivedthe SOS call from those people, who have run out of food and drink,for security escorts.
Undermine domestic security?
While quitting Iraq, the Philippine government has yet to face internal turmoil at home, especially in the southern Mandanao island and the small islands around it, where Muslim insurgents are reportedly still active.
The military confirmed Monday that more than 40 members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group, which reportedly staged the Bali bombings killing 202 people in October 2002, are carrying out military activities in the southern islands. This international group is reportedly establishing coordination with the old local rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to train new recruits to replace those arrested after the Bali bombings.
The training are aimed at making bomb experts to launch attacks in the Philippines itself, and to breathe new life into the Abu Sayyaf kidnap group, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank said in a report.
The report said that the most serious threat "is the possibility of international terrorism and domestic insurgency becoming ever more closely interwoven and mutually reinforcing."
The continuing connections between JI and the MILF could also endanger the peace process launched by the government with the MILF, the report added.
While acknowledging that terrorism cannot be rooted out by one country alone, the Philippine government will continue to seek the cooperation and assistance from other countries and international organizations in its endeavor to solve the problem in the south.
But its pullout from Iraq at a critical time of the war-torn country is seen by the US as a sign of weakness, and therefore canput into question its status as a stout supporter of the US-led war on terror.
Not only a choice between life and death
There was not too much room for the Philippine government to maneuver when deciding on how to solve hostage crisis, because itwas not as simple as a choice of life and death for a Filipino.
Considering the economic, political and diplomatic situation ofthe Philippines, one can understand why it is Manila, not Seoul orTokyo, which has become the first Asian capital to announce its jump from US war-wagon.
Angelo de la Cruz, a 46-year-old father of eight, is not only aFilipino but also a representative of some 7.4 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW), who annually remit seven or eight billion US dollars back home, about equal to 10 percent of the GDP of the country.
President Arroyo has repeatedly vowed to protect and promote the OFW's welfare and interests, so she must take into account the OFW's influence in the country as she was deciding on de Cruz's fate.
Moreover, ever since her decision to join the US-led coalition force in Iraq last year, Arroyo has been under strong criticism from the opposition parties in the powerful Congress and the powerful media, as well as the country's left-oriented intellectuals, who have been calling for the withdrawal of the small Philippine contingent.
The voice for pullout was greatly raised after Cruz was shown on TV appealing for help and urging the government to call back troops to save his life. Thousands of Filipinos and nongovernmental organizations staged demonstrations and sit-ins toexert pressure on the government.
Newly-inaugurated for another six-year term, Arroyo is now faced with the urgent task to implement her difficult, pro-poor 10-point agenda of economic, social and Constitutional reforms, whichmakes a stable political and social atmosphere at home an essential condition for doing so.
On the other hand, the recent squabble between the Philippine government and the US ambassador in Manila, Francis Ricciardone, has also led to the rise of some anti-American feeling in the country.
On July 6, US ambassador Ricciardone said in a speech to the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in Manila that the United States remained deeply concerned about terrorist training camps in the southern islands of Mindanao run by the MILFwith links to the Al-Qaeda network.
He also said that a fund of 30 million US dollars, which the USCongress allocated last year to support the development of Mindanao once Manila signs a peace treaty with the MILF, had been reallocated because of the slow peaceful process there.
Ricciardone has also criticized Manila for not doing enough to reinforce law and order at home.
As a response, the Philippine government said the following day"we do not have to be told to do our duty." The Philippine national TV network, the ANC, also invited this week the US ambassador to the screen and asked challenging questions about thehostage crisis and the suspension of promised aid.
Playing with the time suspected
A leading Chinese-language newspaper, the World News, Wednesday published an editorial expressing suspicion that Manila wants to play with the time to save the life of de Cruz, as it hasnot clearly stated what specific time the Philippine troops, called locally "Pinoy", will leave Iraq while announcing its decision it quit Iraq.
The newspaper warned that the blood-thirsty kidnappers are no fools, if they feel betrayed, they will double their fury and acts of revenge.
Philippine Vice President Neri de Castro said Wednesday that Manila is still waiting for the release of de Cruz, who reportedlyremains in good situation, but is now jailed in the execution chamber by the kidnappers.
He also called upon all nationals to offer support and unity tothe government so as to solve the problem "with the country's dignity intact."
Life or death of Cruz is still up in the air, but one thing is certain: the Philippine government cannot afford to see the tape showing the killers draw out their long knife and add another headto their list of sacrifices.
They aren't going to like the outcome.
Just let them take care of their own problems, and next time they screw it up, make a deal with their successors.
Time for our SF guys to pull out of the Phillipines?
But on the up side ya Gotta love those Aussies.
And 51 lousy troops to defend their interests??!!
The men enjoy their days sitting in the coffee houses enjoying life on their wives' remittances.
My old secretary belongs to a group of Chinese-American (CBA & ABC) ladies who regularly identify and liberate indentured ladies from the Philippines in major cities in the United States.
She has some hair-raising tales about dealing with very dangerous foreign men keeping these women captive in their suburban Washington DC homes.
What's going on here is the Philippines government is afraid that their overseas workforce of indentured female servants and serfs will be sent back home by any returned Ba'athist government in Iraq. Last thing those guys in the coffee house want to see is momma back home!
Very interesting. Do you think the phillipine govt. got a message from the Presidents announced crackdown on people smugglers?
Agreed. Send the SF soldiers home and let them do their own counter-terrorism training
Wow! A good friend of mine had a Filipino housekeeper when he lived in LA-- her husband was back home. We never thought about it in this context-- amazing!
I think my secretary would like to meet your friend.
Hey, beheading by the IslamoNazi moro terr perps on Mindanao is an old family tradition. These Spaniard types will pay in spade for their backstabbing encouragement of the terrs.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.