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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Philippines press split on pullout plan
Angelo de la Cruz  (Al-Jazeera TV picture)
Cruz was kidnapped on 7 July

Newspapers in the Philippines are split over President Gloria Arroyo's apparent decision to pull Filipino troops out of Iraq after demands from insurgents holding a Filipino hostage, Angelo de la Cruz.

Some praise the move as courageous, saying the government has put the protection of its citizens above foreign policy concerns.

Others warn that no government should allow itself to be "blackmailed by terrorists".

For once, [President Gloria Arroyo] seems to have done something agreeable to the whole nation, although after a lot of hesitation... The United States can grumble all it wants after the pullout but it cannot change the fact that it exacted a huge risk from the country when Mrs Arroyo threw her unqualified and even blind support to the international war on terror.

Daily Tribune editorial

The Philippine government... should not give in to demands by terrorists or criminals. If they choose to kill Angelo de la Cruz his blood would be on their hands. But a president is responsible not for him alone but for the safety of the entire country. Our allies in war and peace too need to know if we mean what we say.

Manila Times editorial

Arroyo showed courage in choosing the life of Angelo without forgetting that she was elected as leader of every Filipino... If Washington is really a friend of the Philippines, it will respect any decision made by our government.

Commentator Arnold Clavio in Abante

Along with a happy ending in the story of Angelo de la Cruz... we are also seeing the start of a long horror story that the government will be hard put to end. When one yields to blackmailers, they tend to keep coming back for more.

Philippine Star editorial

The Philippine contingent in Iraq is without any specific UN mandate... Manila waded with eyes closed into a war which is none of our business and we should get out of it while we can.

Malaya editorial

No self-respecting government should allow itself to be blackmailed by terrorists. Contrary to what some self-styled "political analysts" say, the life of one man could not be more important than the honour of the nation.

Columnist Alex Magno in the Philippine Star

It is good that the government has decided to withdraw Filipino troops in Iraq. The Filipinos' anxiety in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf will be reduced... [Washington] can handle it. The Philippines has its own problems that should be addressed. Enough of trying to impress the United States.

Philipino Star Ngayon editorial

The government's action was in response to the call of the hour and deserves to be commended.

Kabayan editorial

The withdrawal decision puts the rest of our 1.4 million overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, especially our 4,000 overseas workers still in Iraq, and the 900,000 we have in next-door Saudi Arabia, at even greater risk. For the terrorists now know that they can abduct, hostage, and threaten to behead more of our Pinoys [men] and Pinays [women] at will, and the GMA government will give in to their further demands.

Columnist Maximo Soliven in the Philippine Star

Regardless of the hostage's fate, this is not the end of the problem. The painful truth is that this is just the beginning.

Abante editorial

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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