Serendra unit owner to return from US for probe

Marianne Castillo, who is based in California, expresses 'deepest sympathy' for the victims, and says her family is 'equally devastated' over the damage caused by the explosion

POWERFUL EXPLOSION. Police confirm an explosion at Serendra, a posh enclave in Taguig at around 8pm on Friday, May 31. Photo by Robin Leonard

MANILA, Philippines – The owner of the Two Serendra unit which exploded Friday, May 31, is coming home from Anaheim, California, where she lives, to cooperate with the police investigation regarding her condominium unit.

“I will be arriving in a few days to shed further light on circumstances leading to the explosion,” said Marianne Cayton-Castillo in a statement. Marianne is the daughter of George Cayton, who is the listed owner of the unit.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, the Caytons’ family lawyer, Raymond Fortun, said his client is returning to the Philippines from the United States where she and her family are based, to “assure the public they are more than willing to aid the investigation and provide the necessary documents…in order to make the investigation complete.”

He also confirmed that Angelito San Juan, who was using the unit on the day of the blast, is a close family friend of the Caytons. The 63-year-old is based in Los Angeles, and was in Manila to attend a wedding. He borrowed the unit from May 31-June 8.

Read: Inside Serendra, a social media explosion

The blast, which occurred at 8:10 pm, happened while San Juan was on his way out of the unit. San Juan, who is suffering from burns on his back, is currently in the Intensive Care Unit and is in stable condition. According to Fortun, however, he is still “incoherent,” and is burned in 85% of his body, 15% of which are 3rd degree burns.

In the statement, Castillo expressed her “deepest sympathy” for the victims and said she and her family were “equally devastated [over the] damage this has caused us.” She said Unit 501B was purchased in 2007 “through hard-earned money” so her family would have a place to stay when in Manila.

She defended San Juan and said their friend was “also a victim here.”

On Friday, a blast from the unit in the posh enclave at Fort Bonifacio killed 3 and injured 5. Investigators continue to probe the cause of the deadly explosion, although Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the likelihood of the source being a bomb is becoming slimmer, with the investigation now more focused on the building’s engineering issues.

Gas supply of all Two Serendra buildings have been shut off pending investigation.

Power outage

Hours before the blast, San Juan had complained to a friend about feeling suffocated in the unit. Fortun said it was because there was no electricity in the building during the afternoon, which, combined with the “airtight” apartment, made it hard for San Juan to breathe.

According to a Serendra memo, a scheduled annual preventive maintenance of electric facilities in Building B of Two Serendra cut off electricity from 8 am-5 pm on the day of the blast. Fortun said the electricity resumed around 6 pm.

Fortun also expressed hope San Juan would recover soon to share his account of the events, and deplored San Juan’s bad timing, saying “he was in the unit at the worst possible time.”

Castillo is expected to bring documents related to her property to assist in the police investigation. –

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