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The BBC's John McLean in Manila
"The hijacker ordered the crew to collect all the money they could and give it to him"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Philippines hijacker bails out
An armed man with marital problems hijacked a Philippine Airlines flight, but bailed out after robbing passengers when his demand to have the plane diverted was rejected.

If you do not do what I say, we will die together

Hijacker Augusto Lakandula

The Airbus A330 descended to about 1,800 metres (6,000 feet) and the man opened a door and jumped out with a home-made parachute over the Manila suburb of Marikina.

The plane, carrying nearly 300 people, landed without problems at Manila's Ninoy Aquino airport and all passengers were reported to be safe.

Open aircraft door
The plane landed with the door still open after the hijacker's dramatic exit
Asked whether the man could have survived his jump, Capitain Butch Generoso said he doubted it, given the aircraft's speed and the turbulence in its wake.

Local police said the suspect - named as Augusto Lakandula - was still at large and a hunt was continuing for him on the ground.

During the hijack, he fired a shot into the aircraft bulkhead to force the pilots to let him into the cockpit.

"He was very angry, very temperamental. The man said: 'If you do not do what I say, we will die together'," said Captain Generoso.

"The suspect said his family had left him and that his wife had an affair with a policeman.

"I don't think there's any political implications there. He had family problems, he needed the money," the pilot said.


The man, wearing a ski mask with swimming goggles on top and armed with a gun and a hand grenade, hijacked flight PR812, en route from Davao City in the southern Philippines to the capital Manila.

Police and dog
Police checked luggage for possible explosives after the plane landed in Manila

There were 278 passengers and 13 crew aboard, the airline said.

The hijacker ordered the pilot to return to Davao, but he refused to do so because there was not enough fuel.

The pilot depressurised the cabin to allow a door to be opened, after descending to a lower altitude at the hijacker's request.

The gunman showed the crew what appeared to be a nylon parachute bundled inside his rucksack, and asked them to show him "how to jump".

The pilots saw that the supposed parachute had no rip cord, and so one of them untied a curtain sash and attached it to the home-made equipment.


"Before he left, he collected all the money he could from the passengers," said passenger Ida Marie Bernasconi.

The suspect said his family had left him and that his wife had an affair with a policeman

Pilot Butch Generoso

She said the hijacker carried ropes and appeared to have prepared in advance for his jump.

"We gave money, all of us shelled out to appease him," said another passenger.

A huge gust of wind swept into the plane when the door was opened, passengers said.

Carolyn Ray
Briton Carolyn Ray and her daughter were on board the hijacked plane

A flight attendant had to help the hijacker leave the plane against the force of the air by pushing him out of the door.

He left his gun and one shoe aboard the plane as he left, but took his grenade with him.

The door of the plane was still open as it landed, according to eyewitnesses.

Police checked the plane for any explosive devices, and passengers were questioned.


The hijacking is the latest in a series of incidents highlighting deteriorating security in the Philippines.

The government is facing a growing Muslim insurgency in the south of the country where 21 mostly foreign hostages have been held for more than a month.

The Manila hijacking was not the first of its kind - in 1971, an American hijacker bailed out of a passenger plane over the northwestern US with a bag containing $200,000 in ransom money.

Despite a massive manhunt, he was never caught, although $6,000 in notes was found along a river in the area years later.

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