Oh, God. This just in from the Philippines Daily Tribune:
A ransom of $6 million was offered and paid out to the Iraqi rebels holding Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz hostage, to ensure his release before President Arroyo’s scheduled State of the Nation Address on July 26, a high level Philippine intelligence officer told the Tribune yesterday.This offer was alleged to have been approved by the President herself, who then tapped Malaysian emissaries for the job, the intelligence officer, who asked for anonymity, said.
Of the $6-million payoff, $5 million was shouldered by Malaysia and $1 million by the Landbank of the Philippines, the officer added.
An Asian diplomat, also on condition on anonymity, held the view that this was a very “dangerous” move made by the Philippine government since Mrs. Arroyo has, by negotiating with terrorists on a financial recompense level, opened up the possibility of more kidnap groups in Iraq as well as in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East seeing the overseas Filipino worker as “easy prey” for them.
De la Cruz’s whereabouts are unknown, with no words about his condition emanatin from the Arab TV al-Jazeera, although it is believed that he remains under the custody of the Iraqi rebels.
The intelligence officer, however, pointed out that the Filipino captive’s early release is already “a done deal,” with Philippine officials in Iraq reportedly readying themselves for De la Cruz’s “rescue” or “recovery” in time for the Sona.
“They (Iraqis) are waiting for instructions from the Philippine rescue team,” the source said.
It was also pointed out by the intelligence source that the Iraqi kidnappers came up with the condition that, despite the ransom payment, the Philippine government will still have to withdraw its contingent earlier than the deadline given, for the rebels not to be seen internationally as having been “bought off” by Manila.
It was still unclear what the quid pro quo for Malaysia would be, for acting as intermediaries in the hostage crisis, but the same source said it is likely that the Malaysian-Libyan palm oil plantation project would be sped up.
Malaysia has also asked the Philippine government for an increased air flight frequency to Kuala Lumpur.
It was Malaysia that came to Mrs. Arroyo’s defense while international leaders openly criticized her move for a pullout of Filipino troops from Iraq…
Read the rest. Don’t know how reliable the Daily Tribune is, but the ransom rumors have been buzzing for a week.
Taking advantage of the government’s changed stance against terrorism, the New People’s Army said it would not release the soldiers it captured until the government suspends all military and police operations in the Bicol region.
The NPA had captured 1st Lt. Rolando Fedelino and Private First-Class Ronel Nemeno in February, when the rebels ambushed an Army patrol in Tinambac, Camarines Sur…
Update: Kevin at Wizbang says, “President Arroyo, if the story is true, has just become a major state sponsor of terrorism. From Coalition partner, to Axis of Weasels, and finally to Axis of Evil in less than a month…”
Update II: Arroyo and the Malaysian government have no comment on the ransom payment. Speaks for itself, I think.
Update III: Indispensable and sage, Wretchard at Belmont Club weighs in on the Six Million Dollar Man. So does the Philippine Daily Tribune, with a surprisingly sharp and on-target rebuke of President Arroyo and her simpering media supporters.
Update IV: John Hawkins on Fiesty Filipinos Who Are Frazzled By Frivolous Funster Jay Leno. Say that 10 times.