03/28/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

School head takes 32 pupils hostage, pleas government for schools and housing

The man, who sequestered two priests in the past, has barricaded himself with his pupils aged between three and five along with two accomplices in a bus in front of the Manila council buildings. After a day of tension, they have been all released.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – This morning the head of a preschool centre hijacked a Manila bus and took 32 of his own pupils (aged between three and 5) and two teachers hostage.  The bus was on a school trip to Tagaytay, south of the capital.  After a day of tension, at / o'clock PM (local time) the group has been released. 

According to the highjack, the move is to demand free education as well as free housing for a group of 145 preschoolers at Musmos Day Care Centre in one of the city's most depressed districts, Tondo.

The school head who identified himself as Jun Ducat, has called a Manila radio station and demanded free education as well as free housing for a group of 145 preschoolers at Musmos Day Care Centre he runs in the city's depressed Tondo district, including the hostages.

In his radio discourse, Ducat pledged to "surrender" peacefully if his demands were met.  "I love these children,” he said “that's why I am here. I will not start any shooting”.

Senator Alfredo Lim, a former Manila police chief, said Mr Ducat has a history of seeking attention. He held hostage two Catholic priests elsewhere in Manila in 1987 using fake grenades over a building contract dispute. The priests were later freed unharmed. “I'm sure this will end peacefully as well,” he said.

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