By Calvin Cordova
LAPU-LAPU CITY — Christine Lee Silawan would have turned 17 this March 26. She would have wanted lechon manok (roasted chicken) and ice cream on that day.
Her mother, Lourdes, is turning 48 on March 23, while her youngest sibling celebrated her 13th birthday last Tuesday.
But instead of a series of celebrations, the family is deep in grief.
Christine was found dead in a grassy lot in Barangay Bankal last Monday. She had at least 20 stab wounds and the skin was peeled off her face.
Some internal organs were also missing.
“Other than her face was skinned, we noted in our examination that her trachea and the esophagus were missing. The musculature at the right side of the neck was also ripped off so the cervical vertebrae can already be seen. Aside from that, her tongue is also gone,” said Dr. Benjamin Lara, chief medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory in Central Visayas.
Lara, however, said it is not certain if the missing organs were removed by her attackers.
“We have to remember that she was dumped in an open area. There were animals there and there is possibility that the missing organs may have been eaten by the animals,” he said.
An autopsy found no signs that the girl was raped.
Lourdes is still struggling to accept the fate that her daughter suffered. “I have no more tears left to cry. I feel so weak. I don’t know if I can recover from this,” Lourdes said in Cebuano.
She said while was not able to give Christine a grand birthday celebration; she made it a point to have lechon manok and ice cream during those special days.
“That’s her usual request to celebrate her birthday,” Lourdes said.
The family lives in a bungalow, not far from the house of Christine’s grandparents where her wake is being held.
The second in a brood of four, Christine wanted to become a teacher or a flight attendant, her mother said.
“She was a very good daughter. I couldn’t understand why someone had to do something barbaric to her. She was very kind, a silent type. She was my buddy, she was very obedient. She would do everything I tell her to do without complaining,” said Lourdes.
Lourdes said Christine was very close to her. The girl carried her mother’s family name since her parents were not married when she was born.
The father, Mario Pardillo, rushed home from Bohol after learning her daughter’s death. Lourdes and Mario separated 13 years ago.
The horrendous sight of her daughter’s body slumped on the ground continues to hound Lourdes.
“It keeps flashing in my mind. All I’m asking is justice. I am really hoping that the culprits will be arrested right away. My daughter didn’t deserve to die like this,” said Lourdes.
The last time she talked with Christine was last Sunday, when the girl asked permission that she would attend mass at the Sacred Heart Parish Church in Barangay Pajac.
Christine had been serving as a collector in the church since last year.
Lourdes said she was very worried when Christine failed to return home last Sunday.
“I couldn’t sleep because it never happened that she did not go home overnight,” she said.
Lourdes said she was at the church in Pajac when she learned that a girl had been found dead in Bankal.
“What I heard was that a salvage victim had been found. At the time, I became worried since Christine was still missing. The moment I saw the body, I knew it was her because of the dress, the fingers, even the toes. I couldn’t understand my feeling when I saw her lifeless. I also wanted to die at the time,” she said.
Mayor Paz Radaza is offering P1 million cash to anyone who can provide information that would lead to the arrest of Christine’s killers.
The Police Regional Advisory Council had also put up a P100,000 reward.
Radaza has visited Christine’s family twice since the incident.
“She told me not worry about the expenses because the city will shoulder everything,” Lourdes said.
Sr. Supt. Lemuel Obon, chief of the Lapu-Lapu police, comforted Lourdes when she visited the wake Wednesday.
“When I woke up this morning, I prayed that the killers will be finally arrested,” Obon told Lourdes.
Obon promised Lourdes the persons behind the gruesome murder will be arrested.
“It’s just a matter of time before they get arrested. There are three of them and they are armed. My instruction to my men is to get them alive as much as possible,” Obon said.
For now Obon is refusing to divulge the identities of the killers.
“I hope I can tell everything now like why and who killed Christine but we have to withhold some information so as not to hamper our operations,” he said.
Obon said the killers were transferring from one place to another, making it hard to corner them.
Obon said Christine was not a random victim and that what happened to her had been planned.
The culprits were “interested” in Christine but Obon said it was unlikely that she had a relationship with any of them.