Philippines Retreats, US Reacts

Article excerpt

Two years ago, President Bush hailed the president of the Philippines as a "close" friend and "stalwart" ally in the war on terrorism. Those adjectives, however, may not survive this week's final withdrawal from Iraq of a small Filipino peacekeeping contingent.

The US is reexamining relations with Manila after President Gloria Arroyo agreed to the early withdrawal in order to meet the demand of Iraqi insurgents threatening to kill a Filipino hostage.

Just as Spain withdrew its forces from Iraq after terrorist train bombings in Madrid forced a change of government there, the Philippines now becomes another weak link in Mr. Bush's antiterrorism coalition.

Ms. Arroyo's decision, like Spain's, sends a signal to terrorists that other US allies, or even the US itself, might buckle to their demands. That's the wrong message to send, especially before the US election in November.

Arroyo, however, faced immense domestic pressure to save the hostage. …