LEAD: Filipino hostage in Iraq says coming home soon
MANILA, July 15 Kyodo
(EDS: CHANGING DATELINE, ADDING DETAILS)
A Filipino truck driver held hostage in Iraq said he was coming home soon and thanked his government for agreeing to withdraw its peacekeepers from the country, according to a video broadcast Thursday on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television channel.
Officials in Manila said they could not comment on the video as they have not yet seen it and are waiting for confirmation of the latest development from Filipino negotiators in Baghdad.
However, an hour after the video was broadcast, the militant group holding Angelo de la Cruz said in a statement read on Al-Jazeera that they would release him when the last Filipino soldier leaves Iraq, which should take place by the end of the month, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier Thursday, Philippine special envoy to Iraq Roy Cimatu said the government is very positive that negotiations for securing de la Cruz’s release will bear fruit.
The Philippine military and police, which both have personnel in the 51-man humanitarian contingent, said Thursday they were still awaiting orders for the withdrawal from Iraq.
Meanwhile, de la Cruz’s family in Pampanga Province, north of Manila, appeared to be readying for the return of the father of eight.
Dozens of police, doctors and nurses were deployed to de la Cruz’s town in Pampanga, and some family members said this may be to prepare for de la Cruz’s homecoming.
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