MANILA, Oct. 20 (PNA) – A returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) killed himself inside the lavatory of a Gulf Air flight GF 154 from Bahrain by hanging, one hour before the plane landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday.
Gulf Air station manager Abdulrahman Khaled Ahmed, identified the passenger as Marlon Cueva, 36, a native of Lubang, Occidental Mindoro. He was seated on seat number 47 H.
Cueva was reportedly a power plant technician in Dubai, according to his brother, Boy Cueva, who was at the airport to welcome his brother.
GF 154 landed at 11:13 a.m. and remains parked at Bay No. 14. It was not able to leave at its scheduled departure at 12:20 p.m.
As of press time, the plane remains at its parking slot, while agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the NAIA medical staff, and members of the Camp Crame Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) continue to conduct their investigation inside the plane.
According to the planeâ€™s passenger manifest, Santos was seated on number 47 H.
Fellow passenger Abdul Jabar, an Information Technology expert from Basilan said that their plane had taken off from Bahrain and they were at cruising altitude when an unidentified passenger went around the plane, asking the forgiveness of everyone.
“Patawarin ninyo ako sa aking mga pagkakasala (Please forgive me for all my sins),” was how Jabar described Cueva apologizing to the passengers. He was described as wearing blue shirt and black jacket.
“Karamihan sa amin ay natutulog na, ang iba naman ay antok na antok kaya hindi namin siya masyadong pinapansin (Most of us were asleep and the others were so sleepy that we barely noticed him),” Jabar said when interviewed while waiting for his pieces of luggage at the carousel area.
Jabar, who said he is finally going home to seek new prospect of employment after spending a year as an IT expert in Bahrain, added that Santos went the round of the whole plane asking every passenger their forgiveness until a stewardess asked him to go back to his seat.
Jabar said that some of the passengers expressed apprehension that Cueva might be a terrorist.
It was about one hour before the plane landed that Santos reportedly went to the lavatory. However, the airplaneâ€™s attendant became alarmed when Cueva fails to return to his seat despite repeated announcements from the crew that all passengers should be at their seat prior to landing.
The worried crew reportedly used a secret mechanism to open the lavatory door and found Cueva dead.
Jabar said that there was commotion in the plane after the discovery of Cuevaâ€™s body and the public address system called for a doctor on board. When nobody answered the call, he said that one of the crew attempted to revive Cueva by pumping his chest with their bare hands.
“Another stewardess attempted to revive Cueva by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” according to Gulf Air chief of security, Leoncio Nakpil. He added that the crew are trained to give first aid treatment to passengers in case of emergencies.
Interviews with various airport authorities and investigators said that Cueva, after apparently finding a way to tie one end of the cord to the lavatoryâ€™s ceiling, then step unto the toilet bowl and then dropped himself to the floor until the knot tightened and strangle him to death.
It took investigators more than three hours to bring out the body of Cueva from the plane to the NAIA Medical Clinic, where Cuevaâ€™s wife, Vilma, was waiting.
Vilma, who said their house is in Mariveles, Bataan, said she did not expect to find her husband dead. “Akala ko sasalubungin ko siyang buhay (I thought I would be able to see him alive),” she said. She added that her husband phoned them from Dubai to tell them that he is arriving at the NAIA on Wednesday.
“My brother asked us to meet him at the airport, there was no indication at all that he has a problem,” Boy Cueva said in the vernacular.
Airport manager Jose Angel Honrado said that Cuevaâ€™s body would be brought to Camp Crame for autopsy. â–