Consulate makes request to visit Jersey City brothers in Christmas killing


By Cristina DC Pastor

In Jersey City, the Christmas Day carnage mirrored the 4th of July killing of 2001. Except for the victims, the details are eerily familiar.

On Christmas Day, the Paet brothers – Elieser, 44; Francis, 37; and Wilfred, 39 – reportedly killed the husband of their sister over an ongoing family dispute. The “Jersey Journal” reports that Jeorge Alzendia, 44, was trying to “evict” his three brothers-in-law from the family home.
The Journal account said the victim was “stomped, beaten and smashed with shovel in the garage of his Roosevelt Avenue home” at around 8 p.m.

The Paet brothers are currently in a Hudson County jail held in lieu of $500,000 cash-only bail.

Rewind to 2001 to Jersey City, where the Gavina brothers — Benjamin, 45, and Alfredo, 42 — were arrested for beating up an off-duty police officer for trying to break up a dispute between the Gavinas and their neighbor. This happened during a Fourth of July celebration where a Gavina family member was reportedly playing with firecrackers angering the neighbor.

According to reports, the violent clash happened in front of the Gavinas’ home. A witness “described how Benjamin Gavina ‘assumed a baseball stance’ when he swung a five-foot steel fence pipe, striking (cop victim) Mr. Domenick Infantes in the back of his head.”

The Gavinas, who claimed self-defense, escaped murder charges. Benjamin was convicted of manslaughter in 2003 and Alfredo was cleared of all charges.

In both stories, the elements of fraternal collusion, a holiday celebration and a brutal killing are present. Whether alcohol was present in the Paets’ case is still under investigation, but according to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, “There is evidence at least some of those allegedly involved were drinking.”

The Consulate has requested the police to visit the brothers, Consul General Mario de Leon told The FilAm. Arrangements are being made through their social worker.

“We have contacted the police last week and offered to talk to the three Paet brothers,” he said. “We were advised though that the social worker in charge of them will have to seek the brothers’ consent first before we can talk to or see them.”

For now, Filipinos in Jersey City are keeping their thoughts to themselves, respecting the family’s privacy and not wanting to be seen as judging a family in the trajectory of a tragedy. Except to say “I live a couple of blocks away from them” or “I see the family every now and then,” no one is talking.

“Filipinos, like other immigrant groups, don’t like to fixate on negative things that happen in our lives,” said Dr. Kevin Nadal, a psychologist and associate professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY. “We tend to internalize our emotions and turn to religion, which is probably why Filipinos tend not to seek counseling or mental health treatment whenever they need it.”

When “bad” things happen like the killing in Jersey City, it can be common for FilAms to avoid talking about it because of the ‘hiya’ or shame that it brings to the community, he continued. “If there are Filipinos, particularly here in the U.S., who are not representing us well, we simply want to ignore it, hoping maybe that the negative press goes away.”

The FilAm reached out to a Jersey City resident who agreed to speak on condition that she not be identified.

“Parang in mourning kami dito,” she said. “Malungkot mga tao.” And why shouldn’t they be: It happened on Christmas and it happened within a family.

Any time a Filipino figures in a tragedy – either as perpetrator or as victim – the community feels the hurt and the social backlash. “Black eye na naman tayo,” she said.

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