11 July 2004

Speaks on Al-Jazeera TV

As we wait for the new deadline of execution of Angelo dela Cruz, I'm sharing with you the full text of his last plea to President GMA shown on Al-Jazeera TV in the Middle East while being surrounded by armed, masked men. His voice was allegedly inaudible but an announcer read an Arabic translation of his words. Here it is:
"To my colleagues in the Saudi company, and all Filipinos who are coming to Iraq. I advise you not to come to Iraq, because there are a lot of problems, and the Iraqi police will not be able to protect you, like what happened to me. Please, Arroyo, withdraw your forces from Iraq." [ABS-CBN News]
I strongly suspect this is a scripted message. It was probably written by his captors for him to read.

Nonetheless, he is still trapped there and in grave danger. The new deadline has been extended to 2:00 am, Monday (Manila time) or about 14 hours from now.
"We give the Philippine government an additional 24 hours starting from 11pm Iraqi time (1900 GMT) on Saturday to show it is serious about withdrawing its troops. If we learn from the media that the Philippine government clearly intends to do so, the hostage will not be slaughtered and will be treated as a prisoner under Islam until the last Filipino soldier leaves Iraq July 20 at the latest and the hostage will be returned safely."
Thus spoke the Islamic Iraqi rebel group holding Angelo Dela Cruz hostage as they issued this statement to Al-Jazeera TV last night. [Gulf Daily News]

Our 51-man Filipino contingent in Iraq are mostly made up of health and social workers, only 8 are police officers --- not even soldiers --- and are purely engaged in rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts in Iraq.

Even if they withdraw today, it would have little effect on the 160,000-strong foreign force in Iraq, but the nearly 4,100 Filipino contract workers there are crucial to the running of US military bases.

I do not know if Angelo's kidnappers know this. My American friends say they do not. They simply say that these "bastards" have no respect for life and will do anything to terrorize. They also say that the life of one man like Angelo should not pressure the GMA government to give in to the demands of the terrorist captors, as this will embolden them to conduct more kidnappings and killing sprees.

What do you think?

Is Angelo an expendable casualty in a bigger war that must be avoided? Is he plain collateral damage?

His kidnappers see him as collateral damage. Most Americans see him also as collateral damage.

Let's pray even more for him.

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