Philippines to continue UN help despite abductions
MANILA (AP) - The Philippines remains committed to deploying troops in UN peacekeeping hotspots despite the brief hostage-taking of 21 Filipino soldiers, who were welcomed back to freedom in Jordan with a traditional military feast, military officials said on Sunday.
The unarmed Filipino peacekeepers, who were riding in trucks, were abducted after providing water and food to other troops on Wednesday in southern Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights by one of the rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. After negotiations, they were freed on Saturday on Jordan's border and taken to a hotel in Amman, Philippine officials said.
At the Amman hotel, the peacekeepers, who were treated well by the rebels, were welcomed with a "boodle fight" - a Philippine military mess-hall style of eating, where food is laid usually on banana leaves atop a long table and soldiers eat with their hands, said army Col. Roberto Arcan, who heads the military's peacekeeping operations center in Manila.
Col Arcan said he talked on the phone with one of the freed peacekeepers, army Maj. Dominador Valerio, who remained in high spirits despite the four-day ordeal.