Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Manila Folder

The Arroyo Administration in the Philippines seems to have caved in to terrorists holding one its nationals in the most abject possible terms. According to Reuters:

Al Jazeera broadcast footage of Philippine deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis reading out a statement, which the television station translated into Arabic, shortly after the expiry of a new execution deadline set by the militants. "In response to your request, the Philippines ... will withdraw its humanitarian forces as soon as possible," Seguis said according to the translation of the statement, addressed to the Islamic Army in Iraq group holding 46-year-old de la Cruz. "I hope the statement that I read will touch the heart of this group," said Seguis. "We know that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy."

Go to Dean Jorge Bocobo at Philippine Commentary for the latest analysis and developments.

Manila Trying to Have It Both Ways ...

Channel News says the Philippines is not pulling back its 51-man peacekeeping force early.

The Philippines Tuesday denied it was planning an early withdrawal of its troops from Iraq to save the life of a kidnapped Filipino truck driver facing execution by Iraqi militants. A senior Philippine official said the timetable for the pullout of the small contingent remained unchanged, despite a suggestion by Deputy Foreign Secretary Rafael Seguis late Monday that the process could be speeded up. "We maintain the same position," said the senior official in Manila, asking to remain anonymous. "Until all the preparations are completed, that is the only time they are pulling out."

There are two possibilities for this confused state of affairs. The first is that Filipino bureaucrats are waiting to be bribed back into line by the United States. This may not necessarily be true but government officials there are so crooked that even their rulers have angles. But the equally likely explanation is that it is the normal, everyday, absolutely common screwup that constitutes standard operating procedures in that country.

Dean Jorge Bocobo describes how Filipino officialdom at first believed that it had a deal with the terrorists to release the hostage and was triumphantly preparing to announce it on TV when the whole thing fell through. A careful perusal of the text reveals the possibility that the Filipino bureaucrats and the terrorists were confused over the dates. The Philippines had scheduled a withdrawl of its forces on August 20. The terrorists apparently expected them to withdraw on July 20. "His captors say he'll be killed if the Philippines fails to meet their demands. They want the Philippines to pull its small force out of Iraq by July 20th." Dean Bocobo quotes a Manila newspaper that also hints at this confusion.

A purported call from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to De la Cruz's family confirming the truck driver's release sparked jubilation among captive's townmates in Pampanga province.Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas confirmed the call and said De la Cruz was already on his way to an undisclosed hotel in Baghdad, citing unnamed sources from Iraq.But the celebration proved to be premature as the Iraqi militant group holding De la Cruz, the Khalid bin Waleed Corps of the Islamic Army, denied it had released the Filipino and reiterated its pull-out demand to the Philippine government.The pull-out should occur on or before July 20, the militants stressed, and not August 20, the scheduled departure of the 51-man Philippine humanitarian mission in Iraq.De La Cruz made a televised appeal over Al-Jazeera earlier Saturday for the Philippine government to withdraw its troops from Iraq hours before the lapse of the original ultimatum set at 2 a.m. Sunday (Manila time).

Based on my own experience, it is perfectly possible that the Filipino team negotiating with the terrorists spoke in terms of 'withdrawing by the 20th' without realizing that they were talking at cross purposes. In case this sounds too far-fetched consider that the Philippine Army itself doesn't know what is going on. Reuters reports:

The Philippine army is awaiting word today on whether it will withdraw from Iraq earlier than scheduled amid confusion over Manila's response to militants threatening to behead a hostage if troops do not pull out. Foreign department officials held an emergency meeting in Manila after the Arabic Al Jazeera television station showed deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis offering to withdraw Philippine forces "as soon as possible" to save hostage Angelo de la Cruz. But an army spokesman said on Tuesday that there had been no official order to withdraw and the family of de la Cruz was sceptical after a series of misleading government statements since the crisis began with the 46-year-old's abduction last week.

They are meeting because they don't know what they said and when they said it.

Yes! It can get worse for Manila ...

CNN is reporting that Baghdad is asking allied nations not to cave into terrorism over reports that Manila was prepared to run up the white flag and prostrate itself before the acolytes of Osama Bin Laden.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Baghdad has urged governments not to negotiate with hostage takers amid uncertainty over reports Manila is going to withdraw its troops. Militants holding a Filipino in Iraq have said they will release him on Tuesday, according to a diplomatic source in Baghdad. It was not clear how the message of his release was conveyed. The news came moments after the Philippine government said it would withdraw its 50-member humanitarian force from Iraq "as soon as possible" to save the life of Angelo de la Cruz, a 46-year-old father of eight.

The subtext of Baghdad's message must certainly be 'if you expect to place your workers here, stand fast'.  This is particularly cruel to Philippine officialdom because, despite protestations to the contrary, neither the corrupt Philippine bureaucrats nor its equally corrupt leftist swells really care an effin eff at a rolling donut over the fate of Angelo de la Cruz. The Left in an unguarded moment referred to overseas workers like de la Cruz as the "toilet bowl cleaners of the world". But what both really care about is money, the money that overseas labor contracts bring, the kind they can deduct from overseas workers like Angelo "toilet bowl cleaner" de la Cruz. Now that Baghdad has put Manila on notice, it raises a danger far graver than terrorism. It imperils the gravy train for leechlike leftist front organizations like Migrante and bloodsucking government institutions like OWWA.

Dostoevsky once observed that the suffering of children was the greatest argument against the existence of God. He should have realized that, on the contrary, God has to exist if men like Angelo de la Cruz, who accepted a job in Iraq to pay for an eye operation for his son, are ever to be recompensed for the misfortune of having been born under the Philipine elite. Whatever his fate, the catastrophe that has overtaken the Arroyo administration for its spineless shilly-shallying is shatteringly complete. Churchill knew that cowardice, no less than bravery had its price. Addressing his words to the men of Munich, he said:

"You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Keep digging boys.