Pardo parish priest found dead in downtown hotel

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Friday, April 16, 2010

A CATHOLIC priest was found dead inside a downtown hotel Wednesday night.

Fr. Alexander Silvano Villamor Salve, 52, was found by security guard Vergilio Sevilleta in Room 426 of the Pacific Tourist Inn at 7 p.m., less than two hours after he checked in using the name Al Villa from Davao.

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Salve is a priest assigned to the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Barangay Pardo, Cebu City.

Sevilleta told police that he heard two women leaving the inn talking about a hotel guest who needed medical assistance.

When he went to check the room, he found the door ajar and saw the priest on the bed unconscious.

PO2 Michael Codaste said Salve had no upper garments but was covered by a blanket.

The inn’s management called up the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) and brought him to a private hospital.

Codaste told reporters there was no formal call for them to respond and they merely proceeded to the inn at 8 a.m. yesterday after hearing reports of a dead man found

The death certificate stated Salve died of myocardial infarction, post coronary bypass and coronary artery disease.

Cebu City Police Chief Patrocinio Comendador said while they are still investigating the incident, they could not find indications of foul play.

“We are more inclined to believe that he died a natural death. Apparently there was no indication of violence. All indications of a natural death were there,” Comendador told reporters.

Codaste said everything in the room was in order and there were no indications of a struggle.

Comendador said they will ask permission from Salve’s family to have his body autopsied just to be sure on the cause of death. But if they decline, he said, he will “abide by the will of the relatives”.

In an interview over radio dySS yesterday morning, the parish’s “sacristan mayor” Dominic Aberion said Salve was assigned to the
parish in July 2008.

He said after the priest had a heart bypass surgery last year, he was no longer as active as he used to be.

Salve left the parish with a driver and an acolyte to preside over a baptism in Barangay Tisa, where he was previously assigned. After that, they went to SM City Cebu to have snacks.

As they went home, Salve reportedly told the two to go on home without him and asked to be dropped off somewhere in downtown Cebu City.

Aberion described Salve as very approachable and easy-going. He reportedly had many friends among the parishioners.

Aberion said Salve was ordained into priesthood in 1974. His mother hails from Carmen town while his father is reportedly from Bantayan.

The parish planned to hold a one-day vigil at the church before they would transfer his body to his family’s home in Carmen.

Fr. Simprinio Atienza, one of three priests serving in the parish’s resident team ministry, said he and the parishioners were shocked when they heard the news that Salve had died.

Atienza said Salve underwent a double bypass heart surgery last year and had been weak since. He said Salve’s family has a history of deaths attributed to heart disease.

Salve’s uncle, the late Msgr. Oscar Villamor, former vicar general and San Nicolas parish priest, died in 2004 from a heart attack.

Atienza said Salve was stressed in the last Holy Week when their parish had a difficult time dealing with parishioners.

He said that just last week, Salve felt chest pains while conducting a mass in a chapel in one of the sitios in Pardo.

He said while some have been raising suspicions over the circumstances behind Salve’s death, they should also be sensitive.

Msgr. Esteban Binghay, episcopal vicar of Metro Cebu South II, said yesterday there is a need for the Cebu Archdiocese to investigate Salve’s death.

Sto. Tomas de Villanueva parish in Pardo, Cebu City is under Binghay’s jurisdiction.

“I advised Catholics that if there is anything questionable about (Salve’s) death, let us remember that they should not blame the whole Church and the whole clergy in particular”, said Binghay.

Binghay said Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has been informed of the incident and has expressed his sadness over the death of one of his clergymen. (MEA/JKV)

Pardo parish priest found dead downtown hotel

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