An editorial by The New York Times in its July 19 issue titled "A Filipino Retreat," described President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's decision to pull out as a "victory" for terrorists.
"Terrorists in Iraq scored a victory when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines decided to accelerate the withdrawal of her nation's token contingent of troops to spare the life of a Filipino hostage," the New York Times said.
It said Ms Arroyo might enjoy short-term euphoria at home over her decision, but it warned that her action could have "disastrous longer-term consequences for her government."
"The Philippines, after all, faces a number of terrorist groups on its own territory, and millions of its citizens work overseas. It is never wise for any government to be blackmailed by terrorists into abandoning its policies, but it seems especially ill advised for Manila to be doing so," the newspaper said. "Spain and some Latin American countries had every right to exercise their sovereign judgment that it was best to leave Iraq. But their decisions, unlike President Arroyo's, were not driven by terrorist demands... One can understand the desire to save a life, but Manila's retreat will only place all other foreign nationals in Iraq in greater peril," the newspaper said.
The soldiers pulled out to "save" the life of Angelo de la Cruz may be unfairly branded as cowards. Our soldiers are among the bravest and valiant troops there (and have been there the longest).
It's not really a matter of cowardice, but a matter of breaking ranks... and in the face of terrorism. GMA who was among the first to support and commit its forces (admittedly a small contingent) when the U.S. of A. sent the call out to allies for aid in Iraq. Now she gives the word to be among the first to pull out in the face of terrorist blackmail. Probably the right political decision, but disastrous in terms of foreign policy and the safety of Filipino OFWs around the world.
Sadly, we were set to pull out our troops in August. Not giving in to terrorist demands would naturally mean staying in only a little while longer. A few weeks earlier in exchange for a life.
What about all the other truck drivers and OFWs in Iraq? The ones who refuse to pull out despite the government's stance? The ones who've been volunteering for the hazardous triple-pay duties that few other will take because it places them in harm's way? The ones who have spent their life's savings to get to Iraq and earn a decent wage for their families because they cannot earn enough at home to feed them? The ones who knew the risks and bravely went anyway?
Will they now be in greater danger? Used as leverage against our country?