Philippines concerned over effect of Saddam’s death sentence on Iraq unrest


(AP) MANILA, Philippines: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s spokesman said Sunday Saddam Hussein’s death sentence did not come as a surprise, but he expressed concern over its effect on Iraq’s continuing unrest. Saddam was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town.

“The verdict did not come as a surprise,” presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement late Sunday.

“What would be more critical is the effect of the decision on the continued violence and strife in Iraq and its impact on the geopolitical stage,” he said.

The Philippines banned deployment of workers to Iraq after insurgents abducted Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz in July 2004.

In a bid to save his life, Manila conceded to the kidnappers’ demand of the early withdrawal of its small peacekeeping contingent — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other allies, but applauded at home.

A second Filipino worker abducted by Iraqi militants was freed in June last year after almost eight months in captivity.

Despite the ban, many Filipino workers have reportedly slipped into Iraq from neighboring countries. Last year, officials said about 6,000 Filipinos were employed in U.S. military camps across Iraq, mostly as cooks and maintenance personnel.

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