De la Cruz treated like king

By Jerome Aning and Tonette Orejas
Inquirer News Service

Offered trailer driver job

HE FLEW in on first-class and was treated like royalty.

But after expressing his thanks Thursday to President Macapagal-Arroyo, his family, the media and the public, Angelo de la Cruz, along with his next of kin, begged leave from the relentless scrutiny and disappeared into the Department of Social Welfare and Development compound in Quezon City.

On Friday, which Malacaņang has declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer for De la Cruz's release, the family is to travel homeward--to Barangay Buenavista in Mexico, Pampanga, where a feast awaits the 46-year-old ex-hostage.

Later in the day, the De la Cruzes are to join the President in praying to Our Lady of Rosales in Pangasinan, whose intercession Ms Arroyo had sought in resolving the hostage crisis.

The long-haired and craggy-faced truck driver arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport wearing a white polo shirt printed with the words "Ako ay Pilipino (I am a Filipino)," khaki pants, and a white cap.

His relatives--including his father Feliciano, seven of his eight children, a son-in-law, a granddaughter and about 50 clan members--burst into tears as he entered the VIP lounge where a large banner bearing the words "Welcome Angelo!" was hung.

"I wish to thank President Gloria Arroyo and the government for giving foremost consideration to my safety. I will never forget this," De la Cruz said in a brief arrival statement.

To many of the questions he was asked during the ensuing press conference, he replied: "My mind is still a muddle; I can't answer that now.

"I wish you'd understand my desire to spend time privately with my loved ones in the next few days," he said.

Asked about his plans, De la Cruz said he would not return to Iraq or go to any Arab country for the meantime. He said he would find a job in the Philippines.

There's a job prospect waiting. Rene Lacsa, manager of Transilver Freight Services Corp. based in Pampanga, visited Buenavista on Thursday to relay a job offer to De la Cruz--driving a trailer.


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