Manila bus-siege man faces life

A man who held his infant pupils in a bus for 10 hours in central Manila says he has been told he may be jailed for life if convicted on multiple criminal charges of illegal detention and abduction.

Manila bus-siege man faces life

A man who held his infant pupils in a bus for 10 hours incentral Manilasays he has been told he may be jailed for life if convicted on multiplecriminal charges of illegal detention and abduction.

Amando "Jun" Ducat and one other suspect werearrested after the children were released on Wednesday evening.

Ducat has said he took the action to demand better housingand education for poor children at a day-care centre he runs.

But the Philippine president has ordered that both men betreated with the "full force of the law" despite what she said werethe "seemingly noble issues" behind the drama.

"I am ordering a speedy prosecution to keep thisrecidivist from doing it again, and to warn others from copycatbehaviour," Gloria Arroyo said in a statement.

"The end does not justify the means," shesaid. "Despite the seemingly noble issues being raised in this bizarredrama, this government shall not stand for prank-terrorism."

Arroyo's chief aide, Edgardo Ermita, conceded that theincident, broadcast live on television worldwide, had been "reallyembarrassing".

In a brief speech before he freed the childrenand made via a public address system connected to the bus, Ducat hadapologised for taking what he called "this harsh step".

"I ask the forgiveness of the people of Parola,"he said, referring to the slum neighbourhood in Manila where most of the children live."I did what I did because of my love for you."

It has since been revealed by police that grenades carriedby Ducat and his accomplice had no detonators.

However, other weapons, such as an Uzi submachine gun, werereal and carried live ammunition, officials said.

Demands

During the tense standoff, Ducat called a radiostation and demanded free education and free housing for 145 pre-schoolchildren, including those on the bus, at the day-care centre he runsin the city's slum Tondo district.

Police have described Ducat as a veteran attention-seekerwho kidnapped two priests 20 years ago.

In 1995 he climbed to the top of a monument in Manila in a stunt todemand that Chinese-Filipinos be disqualified from elections.

That has raised questions in the Philippine media as to howa man with such a record could be allowed to be in charge of a children'sday-care centre.

But many in the Philippines have expressed a degreeof support for Ducat's aims, even if they do not agree with his actions.

Support

During Wednesday's siege, many onlookers chanted Ducat'sname in what appeared to be support for his appeal to give the children abetter future.

At Ducat's centre, mothers who had placed theirchildren in his care expressed their support for him.

"He is a good person," Mary Jane dela Cruztold the AFP news agency. "I don't personally know his background, but heshowed up here two years ago, and lived among us."

"He has been very kind to us. He put up this school.Dozens of pre-schoolers have finished here, learnt their ABCs here."

She said that she and other mothers would appealagainst his conviction.

The drama began on what was supposed to be an annualfield trip for the young children, most believed to be under five years old, toa mountain resort.

Instead, the bus ended up parked near city hall with ahandwritten message stuck to the windscreen saying the children and teacherswere being held hostage.

Speaking to the Associated Press from his holding cell onThursday, Ducat said he did not regret his actions.

"No, I don't regret anything," he said. "Thechildren's wishes were fulfilled, all 145 children can now go to school all theway up to college.

"However, I'm afraid there's word that I might be givena life sentence."

The 26 children held on the bus were taken to a hospitalafter their release where medical staff said all were in good health. They wereexpected to be discharged on Thursday.

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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