‘Goodbye for now, my handsome boy’

Aie Balagtas See (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The remains of 18-year-old Guillo Servando were cremated yesterday afternoon in Caloocan City, days after the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) student died following fraternity initiation rites.

His father Aurelio Servando had a hard time bidding goodbye to his “handsome boy.”

“I don’t know if it is ever possible to let go. Maybe it’s possible to just say bye-bye for now. We will see each other in the next life,” a teary-eyed Aurelio said.

The young Servando’s body was brought to the Mother Teresa Columbarium in Caloocan from La Salle Greenhills for the 2 p.m. cremation.

Aurelio said after the cremation they would bring his son’s ashes home. According to him, it was a family decision to have Guillo, the youngest in a brood of four, cremated.

“Sometimes cremation provides less pain of separation with your loved ones,” Aurelio said.

The young Servando, a second year hotel and restaurant management student, died after the hazing.

Three other fraternity neophytes of Tau Gamma Phi – John Paul Raval, 18, Lorenze Agustin, 18, and a 17-year-old – were seriously injured after the initiation rites last Saturday in a house in Barangay Palanan, Makati City.

Servando died of traumatic injuries in the trunk and lower extremities based on the autopsy report of St. Harold Funeral Parlor.

Raval occupied the unit in One Archer’s Place condominium, where he and fellow neophytes were dropped off after the initiation.

It was also Raval who called emergency hotline Patrol 117 and a Manila Red Cross ambulance when Servando lost consciousness, and eventually died, on the bathroom floor.

Servando’s ashes would be placed in the living room of their house in Makati. But his things will be kept “somewhere less visible.”

Aurelio tried to hold back the tears every time he spoke of his favorite child.

“We miss him so much that if we have a choice we’d rather keep him in the house... that is if health authorities will allow it,” he added.

Although he has accepted the fact that his boy is already dead, the pain of losing his son remains unbearable.

“Yes, natanggap but acceptance doesn’t always come with total comfort. There’s still the pain, especially every time I look at his picture, see his things. The pain comes back and you have to exert effort to hold your tears back,” he said.

He urged police investigators to give his son justice.

The elder Servando also called on the suspects to surrender.

Evidence gathering

Members of the Makati police Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) unit gathered evidence yesterday afternoon at the house in Barangay Palanan where the hazing was held.

The SOCO team was accompanied by a photographer of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Death Investigation Division (DID) and members of the Makati police’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

The investigators were allowed to gather evidence at the garage and garden of the house on Calatagan St. where they took plastic bottles of mineral water and soft drinks that were recovered from a trashcan.

The bottles would be processed for fingerprints, a member of the SOCO team who declined to be identified said.

According to SOCO operatives, no evidence was taken from the house that was locked.

Other members of the NBI’s DID were not allowed by Makati police to enter the house which was cordoned off as a crime scene. The SOCO team spent about an hour inside the premises.

Jomar Pajarito, a member of Tau Gamma Phi and caretaker of the house who surrendered last Tuesday to Manila police, accompanied the investigators.

Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban said Pajarito is still being considered as an informant and not yet a suspect since he had only informed investigators where the initiation rites were held.

He said Pajarito told police that he allowed Servando and the other neophytes into the house, owned by Merlyn Venus, who now lives in Bel Air, Makati.

However, Pajarito said that he left before the initiation started.

Investigators said they are now coordinating with Venus to get the owner’s permission to search the house.

“Although this is a crime scene, we are asking for permission from the house owner to search the house to avoid any legal technicality later,” said Chief Inspector Gaylord Tamayo, Makati police deputy chief for criminal investigation.

Police said the house also served as a boarding house with one male and four female boarders.

According to the Makati police, as part of the investigation they would also review the closed circuit television (CCTV) footage from One Archer’s Place condominium where Servando was brought shortly before he died.

NBI agents reportedly took in for questioning a certain Bernard, resident of Barangay Palanan and reportedly a friend of Venus.

GMA-7 News also reported that a suspected Tau Gamma Phi member who was allegedly seen in the CCTV footage at the condominium surrendered to the NBI headquarters in Manila yesterday.

The fraternity member, whose identity was withheld, claimed that he was not part of the group that conducted the initiation rites on the four DLS-CSB students.

Meanwhile, residents of the Barangay Palanan said prior to the hazing there was nothing unusual about the house. Residents only heard loud sounds of banging of drums, as if band members were practicing.

“When I pass by this house, I would hear the loud banging of drums as if somebody is practicing. They would start in the morning and it would sometimes last until the night,” said Merly Cisnero, a member of the barangay’s Bantay Bayan (neighborhood watchmen) and a resident of the area since 1955. – With Mike Frialde, Jess Diaz, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Danny Dangcalan

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