RP HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO POSTWAR IRAQ

Manila, March 20,2003 -- President Gloria Arroyo today placed the country firmly behind the US attack against Iraq shortly after US President George Bush announced the opening of hostilities in a televised address at 10:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (10:15 a.m. Manila time).

The Philippines was "part of a willing coalition giving political and moral support to actions to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction," the President said at graduation ceremonies at the Philippine Military Academy.

Earlier, Palace officials hedged and said the country would only provide "political and moral" support to the United States.

She said, however, that Manila would not be sending combat troops to help the coalition, but was "committed to extend peacekeeping after the conflict."

The President said a humanitarian mission would be sent by the Philippines after the "surgical, short, and swift" war to aid in Iraq's rebuilding.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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