Filipino captive makes 'final appeal' on TV

A Filipino driver held captive in Iraq has issued a "final appeal" for the withdrawal of Filipino troops from the country.

    The tape was broadcast on the Aljazeera network on Saturday

    In a tape aired by Aljazeera on Saturday, Angelo de la Cruz pleaded for Filipino troops to leave Iraq.

    "To my family in the Philippines and President Arroyo, I beg you to withdraw the troops from Iraq," said de la Cruz, wearing an orange jumpsuit.

    "To my colleagues in the Saudi company and all Filipinos heading to Iraq, I advise you not to come to Iraq because of the many problems and because the Iraqi police cannot protect you, as happened with me," he added.

    De la Cruz, a 46 year-old truck driver, was abducted by a group calling itself the 'Khaled Ibn al-Walid Brigade' linked to the 'Islamic Army in Iraq' as he drove into Iraq from Saudi Arabia.

    "To my colleagues in the Saudi company and all Filipinos heading to Iraq, I advise you not to come to Iraq because of the many problems and because the Iraqi police cannot protect you, as happened with me"

    Angelo de la Cruz

    The captors have threatened to behead the man unless the 51 Philippine soldiers serving with the US-led forces in Iraq are pulled out by Sunday. 

    'No deal'

    But the Philippines said on Saturday it will withdraw its troops from Iraq on schedule in August, and would not bow to the captors demands of an early pullout in exchange for the life of de la Cruz.

    Foreign Affairs spokesman Gilberto Asuque said there were no plans to withdraw the 51 Philippine soldiers by the Sunday deadline.

    After the withdrawal, "our future actions shall be guided by the United Nations Security Council decision ... which defines the role of the UN and its member states in the future of Iraq," the foreign affairs department said.

    Reports that Filipino troops were being withdrawn to satisfy the captors may have "misconstrued" earlier statements about the contingent leaving in August, officials added.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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