Hijacker wanted to be a skydiver
() - May 30, 2000 - 12:00am

The man who hijacked a Philippine Airlines jet and died after bailing out of the plane with a homemade parachute had dreamed of becoming a skydiver, his brother said yesterday.

"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 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 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. His body, nearly buried in mud, was recovered Friday in Barangay Llavac in that town.

Chua 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 Matan-ao, Davao del Sur, 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.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police-Southern Tagalog Region officials denied yesterday reports saying that the police took custody of the dead hijacker's missing belt bag that was loaded with cash and jewelry.

PNP regional director Chief Superintendent Lucas Managuelod said local officials in Real town were the first to arrive at the scene where Chua's badly broken body lay. He said police recovered only the parachute about a kilometer away from where Chua plunged to his death.

In Davao City, PAL continues to cope with its losses following the grounding of the Airbus 330 jetliner that was hijacked May 25.

Arturo Balaga, PAL Davao airport manager, told The STAR yesterday that the airline had to ground the plane to undertake repairs on the door leading to the cockpit as well as on the rear door out of which Chua jumped.

ARTURO BALAGA AUGUSTO LAKANDULA BARANGAY LLAVAC CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT LUCAS MANAGUELOD CHUA DAVAO EMMANUEL GENEROSO IN DAVAO CITY PHILIPPINE AIRLINES PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE-SOUTHERN TAGALOG REGION REGINALD CHUA
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