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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

It's A Wonderful Moment

Thus, the words of Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the 17 days of creeping fear and mounting tension over the abduction of OFW Angelo de la Cruz came to an end. In a televised statement to the nation at a quarter past 5 in the afternoon yesterday, the president broke out the relieving news of the release of overseas worker, de la Cruz.

I was happy.
I rejoiced.
I was relieved.

I know everybody will agree with me that even though we do not know who this Angelo de la Cruz is, we are all one in wishing and hoping and praying for his deliverance. That's one thing with us Filipinos, we know how to empathize with our brothers, especially if he or she is in a foreign territory. We basked in the sense that we care for each other; that we are not selfish nor indifferent to the plight of our countrymen.

Courtesy of
Philippine Daily Inquirer, here is the order of events the family and nation went through over de la Cruz' abduction in Iraq.


De la Cruz abduction: 17 days of terror
Posted:1:29 AM (Manila Time) Jul. 21, 2004
Inquirer News Service

FOLLOWING is a timeline of events in the abduction in Iraq of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz:

July 4: De la Cruz is kidnapped near Falluja, west of Baghdad (known lair of extremist Iraqis linked to al-Qaeda) while driving a truckload of fuel for his employers, a Saudi trucking firm in Saudi Arabia; his Iraqi security guard is killed.

July 8 (Manila time): A previously unknown terrorist group shows video of De la Cruz, threatens to kill him in three days if the Philippines does not withdraw its 51-strong peacekeeping force immediately.

July 10: The Philippines is firm, says its contingent will duly leave Aug. 20 as scheduled when its mandate ends. Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas quotes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as saying the hostage has been released and is en route to Baghdad hotel. The following day, Sto. Tomas admits she's to blame for the wrong announcement.

July 11: The kidnappers say they want a sign of Philippine commitment and all its troops must be out by July 20 before De la Cruz is released. After a Cabinet meeting, the Philippines says it is sticking to its Aug. 20 schedule of pullout. Sto Tomas and De la Cruz's wife, Arsenia, leave for Amman, Jordan.

July 12: The kidnappers extend deadline by three hours and say De la Cruz has been moved to a place of execution. Washington says US Secretary of State Colin Powell has called up Ms Arroyo to ensure she is not wavering.

July 13: A Philippine official is quoted as saying RP troops to be withdrawn "as soon as possible." Manila imposes news blackout. Washington seeks explanation and expresses disappointment.

July 14: Manila says it is coordinating the pullout of its forces and the head count of its contingent is already down from 51 to 43. Australia says the rest of the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq will "pay the price" if the Philippines withdraws.

July 15: De la Cruz, in new video, tells his family he will be home soon. The kidnappers say he will be released when the last Filipino peacekeeper is gone by end of July, and another deadline is imposed.

July 16: Manila says 11 more peacekeepers are heading home, headed by the leader of the contingent.

July 17: A Philippine diplomat says Cabinet members are urging Ms Arroyo to withdraw the entire contingent before her State of the Nation Address in Congress on July 26. De la Cruz's wife, Arsenia, tells labor officials: "It's near. We're going home."

July 18: Foreign Secretary Delia Albert says the remaining members of Philippine contingent will pay a farewell call on Monday on their Polish commander before leaving for Kuwait, signifying a complete pullout of Filipino troops from Iraq.

July 19: The Philippine flag flying over Charlie Camp in Hillah, south of Baghdad, since late last year is lowered for the last time. With farewell waves and thumbs-up signs, the last 34 Filipino troops leave Iraq, completing the pullout of the Philippine humanitarian force.

July 20: Kidnappers free De la Cruz in Baghdad.

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