Hijacker jumps from jet after robbing passengers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A cuckolded husband hijacked a jet, robbed its passengers, and jumped with a home-made parachute yesterday, in the most bizarre of a series of violent incidents in the Philippines. Unconfirmed reports said police in Manila had the man in custody.

A cuckolded husband hijacked a jet, robbed its passengers, and jumped with a home-made parachute yesterday, in the most bizarre of a series of violent incidents in the Philippines. Unconfirmed reports said police in Manila had the man in custody.

The flying bandit had told the pilot of the Philippine Airlines Airbus 330 that he was in distress after his wife left him for a policeman. The plane landed with the remaining 290 passengers and the crew in Manila after the hijacker jumped from the back door, low over the Philippines' capital.

The plane had been on the way to Manila from the southern city of Davao when a man in a blue mask, brandishing a gun and a hand grenade, demanded to be let into the cockpit. He ordered stewards and passengers to collect money from all board. Passengers said he appeared close to tears. "The suspect said his family had left him and his wife had an affair with a policeman," said the pilot, Butch Generoso. "He was very angry, very temperamental. The man said, 'If you do not do what I say, we will die together'. All of a sudden, he removed the mask and he was demanding money and we gave money - all of us shelled out to appease him."

The man fired a shot into one of the plane's bulkheads, and ordered the pilot to fly at 6,000 feet. He used ropes to climb out of a door in the depressurised cabin, and dived off. An official said he was caught by troops.

At the airport, an off-duty policeman caught with two hand grenades was arrested, but any connection with the hijacking is unclear.

Authorities do not yet know how the robber smuggled his weapons and parachute through the security checks at Davao airport. "It was not a political act," said Captain Rolando Luna, director of the state Air Transport Office. "It was purely for money, staged by a mentally and emotionally disturbed person."

This will come as a relief to the government of President Joseph Estrada, shaken by the dramatic decline of security in the Philippines in just weeks.

A month ago, Islamic guerrillas kidnapped foreign tourists from a Malaysian diving resort. The 21 hostages - citizens of Germany, France, Finland and Malaysia - are still being held on the remote island of Jolo, where government negotiators are to meet formally with the guerrillas for the first time today. Several hostages are said to be sick and near-suicidal after 33 days in captivity.

The guerrillas, a small extremist group named Abu Sayyaf, and other groups are demanding their own Islamic state on the large southern island of Mindanao. They have been blamed for a rash of explosions over the past fortnight, including a bomb in a Manila shopping arcade which killed one person last Sunday.

On Wednesday, Communist guerrillas attacked a flotilla of motorboats in which Mr Estrada's eldest son, Jojo Ejercito, was travelling, killing one man.

Last night, the Philippine Coast Guard was checking a report that a ship in its waters was under attack by pirates.

Comments