Philippines President Gloria Arroyo is arriving in the U.S. for meetings next week with President Bush and other officials. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is “very hopeful” two American hostages held captive by Muslim Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the south will be rescued before her meeting with US President George W. Bush next week, her spokesman said Friday.
Arroyo, who is to meet Bush Tuesday, has also ordered troops to intensify their operations against the Abu Sayyafthrough the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao told reporters in a teleconferencefrom the US.
The announcement came a day after seven Filipino hostages were recovered unharmed by pursuing troops, leaving the AbuSayyaf with three hostages — Christian missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham of Kansas and a Filipina nurse.
President Arroyo is expected to ask Bush for Huey helicopters (made by Bell Textron), Cobra helicopter gun ships andC-130 troop transports to help the Philippine military in its war against the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla movement on thesouthern island of Mindanao. Abu Sayyaf Guerrillas released seven hostages from months of captivity today to mark thestart of the holy month of Ramadan.
Since September 11 the Philippines has opened the Clark and Subic Bay air bases as staging points for the U.S.-ledcampaign against Afghanistan, ten years after the Philippine Senate voted to close the bases and kick the US out.
Philippines Vice President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teofisto Guingona Jr. also said the Philippines would beprepared to join a United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping force in Afghanistan and that the military’s war in Mindanauhad prepared it for action in Central Asia.
- Potri Rankamanis, Muslim Philippino activist.
- Johanna Carling, with the Cordellira Peoples Alliance in the Philippines.
- John Gershman, Asia Pacific Editor for Foreign Policy in Focus.