Pastor given parole for murder dies of pneumonia

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 09 Oct) – A pastor who was convicted of murder and given parole died of pneumonia last Oct. 5 at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, a younger sister told reporters here.

Lyna Calihanan-Pinantao said Pastor Castro Calihanan last week called to tell her he was returning home anytime this week.

She, however, was surprised to learn from National Bilibid Prison (NBP) officials that her brother has died of pneumonia and that his body should be brought home.

“We were preparing for a big thanksgiving party for Pastor Castro only to be frustrated by the news that he already died. We just can’t accept it, just like that,” she said.

Calihanan, a pastor of the Church of Christ in Barangay Kalasuyan, Kidapawan was accused of killing an unnamed relative 17 years ago, in Barangay Amas, here.

The pastor denied the accusation, saying it was his son-in-law, Jason Berdin, who owned up to the crime.

He surrendered Berdin to authorities but he and another relative were included as suspects, Pinantao said.

The court declared him guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to die through lethal injection. Death penalty was still in effect at the time.

When death penalty was abolished, his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.

But Calihanan, Pinantao said, showed good deeds and attitude by leading a ministry inside the NBP.

She said this convinced the parole officers to grant him temporary release.

She said she and their church have no money to pay for the transport of Calihanan’s remains to his home place.

But she added that City Mayor Joseph Evangelista has assured to provide assistance. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)