The mollycoddling milksops of Manila

By Michelle Malkin

Add the flag of the Philippines to the International Hall of Appeasers. Sign this pitiful nation up for a lifetime membership to the Axis of Weasels. And remind me never again to brag about the proud fighting spirit of my ancestors.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m deeply, mortifyingly ashamed of my parents’ native land. The island nation has gone and pulled a Spain (and a France and a Germany). Philippine president Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo has crumbled like a fried lumpia wrapper under pressure from radical Muslim terrorists.

The Battling Bastards of Bataan have given way to the Mollycoddling Milksops of Manila. And ultimately, we – not just Filipinos, but all Americans and our allies battling Islamofascism – will pay a grisly price for this disgraceful capitulation.

Late last week, an Islamic terrorist group in Iraq kidnapped Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz. He was abducted near Fallujah while shipping fuel for an American company from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad. The sword-wielding kidnappers, calling themselves the Khaled Ibn al-Walid Brigade, have threatened to execute de la Cruz unless the Philippines immediately withdraws its 51-member contingent of police officers and soldiers from the multinational force providing security in Iraq (the troops were scheduled to be sent home next month, anyway).

My prayers, of course, are with de la Cruz and his family. He is the father of eight children, an innocent man who was reportedly just trying to earn enough money for an operation to restore the eyesight of a son. It could have easily been a relative of mine in the hands of the heathens. No one can blame his family for their entreaties to President Arroyo to pull out all the stops to save him.

But Arroyo is not merely the protector of one man and one family. She is not only a parochial leader of one people. Arroyo proclaimed herself a front-line warrior in the battle against global terror. Last spring, she came to Washington, embraced President Bush, and heralded her tight relationship with the United States.

“[T]he Philippines is one of the first countries to join this war on terror,” Arroyo said. “And the reason why we did it is that we in the Philippines know what it is to suffer from the hands of terrorism. We know the pain of terrorism. And we are with you in your leadership against terrorism, wherever it may be found.”

We are with you. Remember those words.

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-Qaida 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:

We lied.