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Philippines Will Not Send Additional Personnel to Iraq
(Michael Barker, Voice of America, April 15, 2004)
President Gloria Arroyo on Thursday ordered a halt on deploying additional forces to Iraq, where a number of foreigners have been kidnapped or killed in recent weeks. . . . She also asked officials to draw up a plan to evacuate Filipino citizens if security conditions in the country deteriorate. . . . There are about 1,000 documented Filipino civilians living in Iraq, as well as 50 soldiers and policeman deployed on a U.S.-led humanitarian mission. The military group is not in a conflict area and would remain, the presidential palace said. The troops would be called on to evacuate citizens if needed. . . . Reports on Thursday said about five hundred Filipino workers were stranded at a U.S. air base in Iraq and had not been able to leave the country. . . . A surge in kidnapping and violence against foreigners in Iraq has already seen Russian contractors pull their workers out of the country. One Filipino was kidnapped by Iraqi militants earlier this month but has since been released. About 40 foreigners are still believed to be held by militants in Iraq, and one hostage, an Italian, has been killed.


posted by LoZo 1:29 PM


 
Arroyo Says Philippines May Pull Out of Iraq
(Carlos H. Conde, New York Times, April 14, 2004)
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo suggested today that she might withdraw the small detachment of Filipino military troops and police officers stationed in Iraq if the situation there deteriorates. . . . "While the Philippine government is determined to help the Iraqi people in rebuilding their nation, the safety of our peacekeeping forces in Iraq is still our utmost concern," President Arroyo said in a statement. . . . A contingent of 43 Filipino soldiers and 8 police officers are stationed in south-central Iraq, working alongside Polish troops, Philippine officials said. . . . Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, an army spokesman, told reporters that a fresh contingent of 45 people was preparing to leave for Iraq this week to replace a group of soldiers, police officers and civilian doctors who returned to the Philippines a month ago. . . . "We have not received any formal directive to pull out or reduce our presence," he said. . . . But the growing violence in Iraq has prompted the Arroyo administration to reassess its presence there, officials said. Iraqi gunmen this week freed an unidentified Filipino driver who had been abducted on April 11 along with eight other foreigners who were traveling to Falluja. . . . Ms. Arroyo has been consistently criticized by her political opponents for her support of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Antiwar demonstrations have regularly occurred throughout the country, and protesters have called Ms. Arroyo a "puppet" of President Bush. . . . "For a country like the Philippines with its own set of domestic problems, maintaining Filipino troops in Iraq could hardly be seen as beneficial to our country," Renato Reyes, an antiwar organizer, said. "It's quite obvious that the coalition forces are unwanted in Iraq. Why is the Arroyo administration hell-bent on staying there?" . . . Ms. Arroyo is running in the presidential elections scheduled for next month, and her support of the American effort in Iraq is increasingly becoming a contentious election issue. Panfilo Lacson, a presidential candidate and the former national police chief, today called for the withdrawal of Filipino troops from Iraq.


posted by LoZo 3:28 PM


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