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Brother says Philippine hijacker wanted to be a skydiver

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May 30, 2000

   

MANILA, MAY 29 (AP) - The man who hijacked a Philippine Airlines jet and died after parachuting out of the plane with a homemade parachute had dreamed of becoming a skydiver, his brother said Monday.

     

"He longed to be a skydiver," Rannie Chua said of his older brother, Reginald. "But he had never jumped before." 

   

Reginald Chua wore a ski mask and swimming goggles and was armed with a grenade and a pistol when he announced he was hijacking the flight Thursday from southern Davao City to Manila.

  

He ordered the pilot of the Airbus 330 to turn back to Davao, but when he was told there was not enough fuel, he ordered the crew to collect money from the passengers. He then had the plane descend to 6,000 feet (1,820 meters) and jumped from a rear door with a

homemade lavender-colored parachute.

  

Witnesses saw him separate from the parachute in midair and he plunged to his death on a mountain in Real, Quezon province, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) east of Manila. His body, nearly buried in mud, was recovered Friday.

  

His brother said in an interview with the Radio Mindanao Network that his brother collected books on skydiving.

  

He said his brother, who managed the family's corn milling business in Matanao, Davao del Sur province, was deeply hurt after their father was killed in 1993 and he stopped going to school.

  

The family believes the father's killing was sparked by a business rivalry. No suspect has been arrested.

  

Last week, Chua's mother said her son wanted to make more money so he could move the family away from their community because he could not bear to see the people involved in his father's murder roaming free.

  

The man was first identified by airline officials as Augusto Lakandula, the name on his ticket. There was initial confusion regarding his identity because he carried a resident certificate with the name Augusto Lakandula and a driver's license that identified him as Reginald Chua.

  

The plane landed with the rear door still open, with the other 277 passengers and 14 crew members unharmed.

  

Emmanuel Generoso, the most senior of the three pilots on the plane, said the man was crying and apparently deranged.


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