Initially, the Philippines appeared to stand firm against de la Cruz's abductors. The nation followed the courageous lead of Japan, South Korea and Bulgaria, which have all resolutely opposed the terrorists despite the abduction and murder of their countrymen. "Philippines Defiant on Iraq," one headline read. "Philippines Rejects Deadline From Iraq Kidnappers," read another.
But facing pressure from a vocal minority of isolationists, anti-American academics and Catholic church leaders, Filipino government officials buckled within hours of their original decision. On Monday, Philippine deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis announced on al-Jazeera television that "in response to your request" -- "request," as if the terrorists had extended an invitation to tea -- the Philippines "will withdraw its humanitarian forces as soon as possible."
"I hope the statement that I read will touch the heart of this group," Seguis pleaded further, as if he were addressing Oprah Winfrey's studio audience. He concluded pathetically: "We know that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy." Meanwhile, militant Islamic brigades of merciless cutthroats have menaced the southern Philippine islands, collaborated with murderous al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah operatives, and will now see every overseas Filipino worker as an irresistible tool for geopolitical extortion.
Indeed, there have even been unconfirmed reports from the Philippines that its diplomats may have offered cash to the terrorists using al-Jazeera TV as an intermediary.
Some observers, including our own State Department, have given the Arroyo administration the benefit of the doubt. They believe that the wording of the nation's announcement to withdraw troops from Iraq "as soon as possible" is a deliberate ploy meant to confuse the captors and buy time. Nonsense. The unequivocal message of the Philippines to the terrorists has come across loud and clear: We will surrender. And so has the country's message to America: