By Iraq Solidarity Campaign
The hostage-taking of Angelo dela Cruz, an overseas Filipino worker in Iraq last Thursday (July 8, 2004), has put the national spotlight on the war in Iraq and the fate of the 4,000 filipinos working there. Unless the Philippine government withdraws the 51-strong Philippine contingent in Iraq, dela Cruz will be executed. Unmoved by the incident and despite growing public opinion favoring withdrawal of the troops in order to save Angelo del Cruz, the Philippine government has maintained its stand against the pull-out of the troops with the no justification other than saying “we will not give in to the demands of the terrorists”. Amidst repeated calls from government for the public to “just pray for Angelo” and a news blackout, various groups have gone to the streets, holding vigils and mass actions to demand the immediate withdrawal of Philippine troops in Iraq. In this issue, we feature the statement issued by Iraq Solidarity Campaign and a press release featuring international solidarity messages for Angelo.
The Iraqi Solidarity Campaign (ISC) is an alliance of political blocs and organizations founded last April 19, 2004 after the outbreak of widespread uprising in Iraq. It calls for the ending of the US-led occupation and the withdrawal and evacuation of Philippine troops and workers from Iraq. It also endeavors to support the Iraqi people's resistance.
ISC has spearheaded a number of actions to pressure the Philippine government to withdraw its troops. It vows to continue to educate the public on the situation in Iraq and mobilize for the withdrawal of troops and against the occupation.
ISC papers can be downloaded from HYPERLINK “http://www.iraqsolidarity.blogspot.com/”www.iraqsolidarity.blogspot.com
Such actions deprive the Iraqi people of their legitimate right to self-determination. Mary Foster of the Iraq Solidarity Project from Montreal, Canada, appealed to the President, to consider the consequences. The stakes are very high.
For one man, Angelo de la Cruz, and his family, everything is at stake. For your own country and yourself, it is a question of whether you will stand up against pressures which have, for far too long, played out their destructive violence on the lives of people in the Philippines.
These are just four of the messages that the Iraq Solidarity Campaign ญ Philippines (ISC) has been receiving by e-mail from around the world after news broke out of the abduction of the Filipino worker. The ISC is a coalition of Filipino individuals and organizations calling for the ending of the occupation of Iraq. It has links with the anti-war organizations from all over the world that mobilized the historic 15-million march against the war on Iraq last February 15, 2003 ญ the biggest coordinated global demonstration in history.
The messages are coming from all corners of the world. This is an indication that Filipinos are not the only ones who are very worried about dela Cruz's fate, said Herbert Docena, an ISC member. ณIt also shows that the demand to end the occupation and to pull out Philippine troops is not just being made by dela Cruzนs abductors but also by Iraqis and by the majority of people from around the world.
The Filipino government is Fillipino government is responsible for the safety of Angelo dela Cruz, wrote Thomas Sommer of the Paris-based International Civilian Campaign for the Protection of Palestinians. But he is a victim of both his abductors and his government, Sommer added. In sending troops and poor workers to Iraq, the Arroyo government is as guilty as Bush or Blair in illegally occupying Iraq.
Another letter-writer from New Zealand pointed out that in wars, it is poor people like dela Cruz who always get caught in the middle. It is ordinary people who are used as cannon fodder and are increasingly at risk with their lives for the political and economic benefits of a selected few, Martini Gotje said.
>From Portugal, the Friends of Filipinas, a network with over 1,500 members, was direct to the point: No blood for oil! No foreign troops in Iraq!
While we recognise the pressure the Philippines is coming under to participate in the so-called war on terror, the occupation in which you are participating will only give global oppressors more power to dictate the terms of life for people around the world, noted the Canadian group Block the Empire. We urge you to take the opportunity of the threat on de la Cruz's life to withdraw your troops from Iraq, where they are participating in the hostage-taking of an entire people.
Americans are especially empathic in calling for the Philippine government not to allow dela Cruz to die. Please do not allow one more avoidable death of one of your country-men! Withdraw your troops from Iraq. Iraqis don't want them there just as they donนt want our U.S. troops there either. This unjust war should never have began, but now that it has, we have to end it as soon as possible, wrote Berit Westby from Colorado.
One American from Hawaii, Vincent Pollard, who said he met then UP Economics Professor Arroyo as a Fulbright scholar in UP Diliman, urged the President to take back her “blank check” of support to Bush. Wrote Pollard: Mr. Cruz reminds me of so many Filipino colleagues and friends. Like so many of his kababayan, apparently Mr. Cruz, too, was driven by economic deprivation to work overseas. But having taken that risk, now Mr. Cruz is at risk of losing his life because his job has become enmeshed in the U.S.-led war in the Middle East. Kawawa naman siya!
Ordering Filipino soldiers and other Filipinos who are physically supporting U.S. military operations to leave Iraq will show that, in the words of the 1987 constitution, the Philippines truly exercises “isang malayang patakarang panlabas,” Pollard pointed out.
Another American wanted to share what she learned from having a family member who served in Iraq as a member of the US Army Reserve. ณWe know firsthand how misguided and immoral the war is and urge all governments to withdraw from Iraq now,ฒ said Laura Costas, also from the US.
Please bring all Phillipine troops home, Libby Hunter from Michigan pleaded. The war in Iraq is imoral, illegal, murderous, and I am ashamed of my government.
These messages from around the world will be read today during the protest vigil being organized by the Iraq Solidarity Campaign and other political formations at the Welcome Rotonda starting at 5 PM. (Iraq Solidarity Campaign press release, July 9, 2003)#
For the complete messages, please log on to http://www.iraqsolidarity.blogspot.com.
Read full article at http://www.focusweb.org/philippines/html/Article270.html