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State prosecutor slaps Army man in bus hostage-taking with illegal detention charges

Army Corporal Rene Prajele is facing dismissal from the service and charges of slight illegal detention for taking hostage 30 passengers of Manila-bound Penafrancia Tours following an inquest proceeding by a state prosecutor in Naga City, a Philippine Army (PA) officer said Monday.

Army Capt. Mardjorie Panesa, 9th Infantry Division spokesperson, said lawyer Agaton Fajardo, State Prosecutor III, would be filing a case against Prajele for slight illegal detention with a bail recommendation of Php40,000 for his temporary liberty.

The determination of the charges came from the complaint submitted by the investigators of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Del Gallego Municipal Office on Friday for the hostage-taking drama inside a Penafrancia Tour bus, Panesa said in a text message.

Earlier on Friday, police investigator filed with the State Prosecutor's Office (SPO) a complaint for kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the suspect, according to Police Chief insp. Malou Calubaquid, PNP Bicol spokesperson.

The SPO sought to downgrade the complaint to slight illegal detention after the bus driver and the passengers decided not to file a complaint against the suspect, Panesa said.

The prosecutor formally filed the case under inquest case No. V-10-INQ-15E-0354 with the regional trial court in Naga City.

While waiting for the formal case in court, the suspect will be detained at the PNP town jail.

Panesa said that in case Prajele bails out, he is given temporary liberty by the court and be turned over to the Army, but he is still not off the hook as he will face sanction of dismissal from the service under the Army’s Administrative Order 40.

She cited that under military law, a soldier facing criminal or civil case will be dismissed from the service.

Asked if Prajele would undergo psychological examination after he was observed to be deeply facing a family problem, Panesa said it would be the judge that will recommend if he would be subjected to a psychological examination or not.

Prajele, 36, a native of Cotabato, had been in the Army for 11 years and was a team leader of a security group carrying out a developmental project in Camarines Sur.

He is currently assigned with the 31st Infantry Battalion based in Sorsogon.

He is married, has a daughter and lives in Barangay Agdangan, Baao town in Camarines Sur.

Prajele, in full battle gear, held hostage on Friday afternoon 30 passengers of a Penafrancia Tour bus along the Andaya Highway in Barangay Comadaycaday, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, causing a four-hour traffic jam.

He surrendered later to the hostage crisis management team. (PNA)

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