Philippines Mulls Iraq Troop Withdrawal

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (searchsaid Wednesday that mounting violence in Iraq (searchhad prompted her government to study whether to withdraw its 100 troops from the Mideast nation.

"The decision on whether or not to withdraw our peacekeeping forces will depend on the security situation in Iraq in the days to come," said Arroyo, a staunch support of the war on terror.

The Philippine contingent of military and civilian personnel in central Iraq has suffered no fatalities. Military spokesman Col. Daniel Lucero said the deployment has been open-ended with no date set for withdrawal.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with the international community in this commitment and that is why we are not making any rush decisions," Arroyo said in a statement.

She said while the government remains committed to helping rebuild Iraq, "the safety of our peacekeeping forces in Iraq is still our utmost concern."

Filipino peacekeepers are serving under Polish command.

Last month, 28 policemen and soldiers returned home to a hero's welcome after seven months of peacekeeping work. A similar number of policemen and soldiers are preparing to leave for Iraq later this week, officials said.

Left-wing groups have demanded the withdrawal of the Filipino contingent from Iraq, saying the Philippines could be targeted by Washington's enemies. Some of Arroyo's rival candidates in the May 10 presidential election have also opposed her deployment of the peacekeeping mission, citing America's failure to find weapons of mass destruction.