We at the Iraq Solidarity Campaign welcome the government’s decision to pull out the troops from a country where they should never have been sent to in the first place. Our gratitude, however, is not reserved for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It was her, after all, who – by supporting an illegal war and occupation – put Angelo dela Cruz in harm’s way. It was her who – by holding the people’s welfare hostage to her and the United States’ interests – held the life of dela Cruz o­n her hand. No: we cannot thank the President for putting aside the knife that she herself had held so close to Angelo’s neck.

Instead of thanks and praise, we must continue to lavish blame and censure o­n our President. She must be held accountable and sanctioned for taking the country to an illegal and immoral war. We call o­n Congress to launch a full inquiry into Arroyo’s decision to be part of the US-led “coalition of the willing” and to investigate the lies which she peddled for justifying her support for the war. It must not continue to be said that the President was merely “duped” by Bush: Despite easily available evidence then proving that the war was based o­n lies, she willingly allowed herself to be lied to for her own reasons. She, in turn, consciously and deliberately lied to the Filipino people and she must not now be allowed to get away with it. These were not any other lies: they have killed over 10,000 Iraqi civilians and have put in real danger the lives of Filipinos around the world.

The withdrawal of troops from Iraq is not enough. An illegal occupation founded o­n lies must not be allowed to continue a minute longer. In order to begin paying for its support for the war, the Philippine must first and foremost, apologize to the Iraqi people for being part of an invading force and an unwelcome occupying army. It must explicitly and unequivocally condemn the occupation and work towards the full restoration of independence and sovereignty in Iraq.

As a current member of the UN Security Council, the Philippine government must officially call o­n the United States and the coalition to immediately end the occupation and press for the observance and enforcement of international laws and obligations. For its part, the government must withhold any official recognition of – and refuse to resume any diplomatic ties with –the illegitimate “interim government” imposed by the US o­n the Iraqi people. o­nly at the invitation of a legitimate Iraqi government independently installed by the Iraqi people should the Philippine government resume giving opportunities for our OFWs to help Iraqis rebuild their own country.

We call o­n the Filipino people to use this experience as an occasion for re-examining our foreign policy and for questioning whether the government’s alliance with the United States serves the people’s interests.

Our plight being colonized by the United States puts us in a unique position to understand what the Iraqis are going through. We must not be party to inflicting to others what we ourselves experienced. As last century’s Iraqis – among the first people to be directly occupied by the United States, we call o­n the Filipino people, to extend solidarity with today’s Filipinos – the Iraqis who continue to be occupied by the United States today.#