July 20, 2004 – Iraqi militants freed Angelo de la Cruz, the 46 year-old Filipino truck driver whom they had seized nearly two weeks ago, dropping him off at the United Arab Emirates embassy in Baghdad today at about 10:30 a.m. local time.
The release came in response to the completion of the Philippine troop pullout, which was finalized yesterday. De la Cruzâ€™s captors had previously said they would not release him until the "last soldier" from the Philippines was withdrawn from Iraq. Philippines President Gloria Arroyo caved in to boisterous grassroots public pressure led by families of overseas Filipino workers insistent that the government be responsive to the plight of Filipinos abroad.
In related news yesterday, a separate group of militants released Muhammad Al-Gharabawi, an Egyptian truck driver captured on July 6 in Iraq. That release was a response to an announcement last Friday made by Al-Gharbawi's Saudi employer, which said it would end all its activities in occupied Iraq.