Filipino President Gloria Arroyo defended her decision to withdraw troops early from Iraq to gain the release of a Filipino hostage as being the best decision for her people and the nation.
The key reasoning behind the explanation: Rejecting demands of the militant Islamic kidnappers would not only have cost a Filipino hostage his life but would have made 1.5 million Filipinos employed in the Middle East vulnerable to future attacks.
In the short term, the move soothed the Filipinos who opposed their country's involvement in the Iraq war, sparked celebration and, at least temporarily, solidified Arroyo's grip on the nation's presidency.
It also comes as U.S. special forces launched the latest series of exercises to train Filipino soldiers in dealing with Islamic militants on the nation's southern island of Mindanao.
Since the Philippines caved in to terrorist demands, Iraqi terrorists have stepped up their abductions of visitors from other nations, and the Filipino cave-in could yet have painful consequences at home.
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville - July 29
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