Thursday, March 29, 2007


Two men who held 26 children hostage on a bus to demand better education and housing for poor children were armed with grenades that did not have detonators, police said Thursday. But other weapons brandished by the hostage-takers during the 10-hour drama in downtown Manila on Wednesday were real, and the two face a string of criminal charges that are still being prepared, Senior Superintendent Danilo Abarzosa said.
"No, I don't regret anything," Armando "Jun" Ducat, owner of the day care center that the children attended, told The Associated Press Television News from jail after he and an accomplice surrendered peacefully.
"The children's wishes were fulfilled, all 145 children can now go to school all the way up to college," he said. "However, I'm afraid there's word that I might be given a life sentence."
TV images of one suspect holding a grenade next to a teacher were beamed around the world, embarrassing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government as it tries to portray the insurgency-wrecked Philippines as a safe destination for tourists and investors.
"They will be treated with the full force of law and I am ordering speedy prosecution to keep this recidivist from doing it again, and to warn others from copycat behavior," Arroyo said in a statement.
"The end does not justify the means. Despite the seemingly noble issues being raised in this bizarre drama, this government shall not stand for prank-terrorism," she said.
Ducat, a 56-year-old civil engineer who has staged other attention-grabbing stunts in the past, surrendered to provincial Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson after putting the safety pin back in a grenade.


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