Vol. 5 Num 58 Sat. July 24, 2004  

Arroyo defiant in face of US criticism over troop pullout

President Gloria Arroyo was defiant yesterday in the face of harsh US criticism of her decision to recall Philippines troops from Iraq to save a hostage's life, as the freed man arrived in his hometown to a hero's welcome.

The US envoy to Manila had meanwhile travelled to Washington to explain domestic pressures that led to Arroyo's decision to pull out the Philippines' 51-man contingent a month earlier than scheduled, an official said.

The withdrawal was completed on Monday. The following day truck driver Angelo de la Cruz was released by militants who had threatened to behead him unless the troops left.

Arroyo brushed off US criticism that she had played into the hands of militants and said she had no regrets about her decision.

A Filipino activist displays small placards during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Manila yesterday urging the United States to put an end to the war in Iraq. Philippines President Gloris Arroyo said the decision to bring home the 51-man contingent earlier this week was necessary to ease threats against the estimated 4,000 Filipino civilians working to help rebuild Iraq. PHOTO: AFP