Soldier in Philippine hostage-taking surrenders

MANILA - A soldier who allegedly seized a bus and took as hostages dozens of passengers inside a bus at a province 395km south-east of the capital Manila, surrendered late on Friday afternoon.

Army Corporal Rene Prajele, 36, turned himself over to Colonel Amador Tabuga, commander of the 902nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, GMA News Online reported, citing a text message from Captain Marjorie Paniza, public affairs chief of the 9th Infantry Division.

Cpl Prajele is now under the custody of the 902nd Infantry Brigade, and all hostages are safe, according to the news report.

In an initial report, Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib said Cpl Prajele boarded the Manila-bound bus "in full battle gear", and was armed with an M-16 rifle.

The bus was held at a police checkpoint at Comadaycaday village in Del Gallego town, Camarines Sur province.

A "crisis management team" consisting of Col Tabuga and two town mayors negotiated with Cpl Prajele.

The suspect's six-year-old niece was also reportedly on site.

Initial information suggested Cpl Prajele, who has been in the army for 11 years, had family problems.

rdancel@sph.com.sg