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Police Press Charges in Philippines Hostage Drama

Philippine police have filed criminal charges against gunmen accused of taking school children hostage this week, despite appeals by the children's parents for clemency.

Police say Jun Ducat, the owner of a day-care center, and an accomplice will be charged with kidnapping and possession of illegal weapons. They could face life imprisonment.

Ducat held a busload of students and teachers hostage outside City Hall in Manila with what he said were grenades. He and the accomplice surrendered Wednesday after holding the children for about 10 hours.

Authorities say the grenades lacked detonators and would not have exploded.

Police said Thursday that they were investigating if Ducat, who has a history of similar pranks, was engaged in a political stunt in connection with ongoing election campaigns.

Manila's police chief, Danilo Abarzosa, was fired for his alleged mishandling of the hostage crisis.

Many parents of the kidnapped children have expressed sympathy for Ducat and his demands that authorities provide free education and housing for the 145 children who attend the facility he owns in a poor Manila neighborhood.

The children were released after medical checkups and were reported to be little affected by the event.

President Gloria Arroyo met with some of the children who had been held hostage and their parents at the presidential palace Thursday. She has demanded that police apply the full force of the law against Ducat and his accomplice.