‘Tough’ Philippines Gives in to Terrorists
A rather odd juxtaposition of headlines:
The Philippines will withdraw its forces from Iraq (news – web sites) “as soon as possible,” Philippine deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis said on Monday in a statement he read out on al Jazeera television.
“In response to your request, the Philippines … will withdraw its humanitarian forces as soon as possible,” Seguis said according to al Jazeera’s Arabic translation of his remarks.
His statement was addressed to a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, which is holding a Filipino driver hostage and has threatened to kill him unless Manila agrees to withdraw its troops by July 20. “I hope the statement that I read will touch the heart of this group,” Seguis told the satellite television from Baghdad.
The US government welcomes the Philippines’ decision not to withdraw its troops from Iraq ahead of the schedule, spokesman of the Statement Department Richard Boucher said here on Monday. “We applaud President Arroyo’s decision not to give in to terrorists and not to agree to an early withdrawal of Filipino forces,” Boucher told a news briefing. He spoke highly of the relations between the United States and the Philippines, noting Philippine President Arroyo and the Philippine people have long been strong and loyal allies in the war against international terrorism.
So, which is it?