GMA DEFENDS PNP'S INVOLVEMENT IN PASAY HOSTAGE TRAGEDY
Malacanang, June 3, 2002 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) came to the defense of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after the brick-bats the police has been receiving due to the tragic hostage-taking in Pasay City last Friday.
In her weekly morning radio interview, Pres. Arroyo lauded the PNP for their efforts in solving 50 hostage-taking cases in Metro Manila in accordance with their Rules of Engagement and said the Pasay City hostage-drama was an 'isolated case.'
Pres. Arroyo also promised the family of the slain hostage, a four year old boy, that justice would be done in their case.
US open to longer-term military presence in the Philippines 06/03 1:30:47 PM
MANILA (AFP) - US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Monday that Washington was open to the idea of keeping troops in the Philippines after its anti-terror operation in the south ends next month.
US President George W. Bush has emphasized that "this war against terrorism is going to be a long process," Wolfowitz said in Manila as he prepared to fly to Basilan island, the focus of the joint US-Filipino military campaign against Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.
"We will be open to all kinds of possibilities not just with respect to Balikatan (the joint military campaign), but with respect to the larger peace and order problems in this country," Wolfowitz said when asked if some US military advisers would stay behind on Basilan.
"I would like to emphasize that whatever specific steps that we decide to do, or decide not to do, it is a mistake to focus too much on any one detail, or even as I said last time, even in one small island," he told a news conference.
Under an accord, the US troops are mandated to leave after June 30 following six months training, advising, and sharing intelligence with, Filipino troops fighting the Abu Sayyaf guerillas linked to the al Qaeda network of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin laden.
Wolfowitz said Washington remained opposed to the idea of using the 1,000 US troops now in the Philippines beyond their current advisory role to go after the Muslim rebel group, which holds a US Christian missionary hostage.
"We are not talking of sending in US troops to do the job of the Philippine armed forces," he said, but on "improving the capability of the Filipino armed forces to do the job themselves."
Washington believes US hostages Martin and Gracia Burnham "are alive", he said, but declined to discuss tactical details.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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