The parents of hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo 3rd insisted on the filing of murder charges on members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity led by Arvin Balag as well as University of Santo Tomas law dean Nilo Divina, saying all the grounds for a murder indictment were present in the case.
Castillo’s parents Horacio Jr. and Carmina made the plea in their reply-affidavit submitted to the preliminary inves-tigation led by Asst. State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva.
They said there was probable cause to charge 31 respondents before a trial court for murder, robbery and violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, and 23 respondents for four counts of perjury and obstruction of jus-tice under Presidential Decree 1829.
Balag and his fraternity brothers have denied all the charges despite evidence presented by Manila police and the eyewitness testimony of frat man-turned government witness Mark Anthony Ventura.
Divina claimed he had no knowledge and therefore no responsibility over the Aegis Juris hazing rites, as the law fraternity was not an accredited student organization in UST.
The Castillos argued that the respondents should be put on trial for robbery because the personal belongings of their son remained missing, and for perjury and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the hazing death.
In their 14-page reply-affidavit, the Castillos argued that it was “beyond dispute” that the injuries suffered by Atio during his initiation rites at the Aegis Juris fraternity library caused his death, not a pre-existing heart disease as alleged by one of the accused, John Paul Solano.
“Atio, our young boy of 22 years, was tortured and killed by men who were supposedly his ‘brothers,’ some of whom are still nameless, in the barbaric and senseless tradition of hazing,” it stated.
“Clearly, therefore, the allegation of respondents that Atio’s death was caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is patently without merit,” they pointed out.
They took note of the medico-legal report of the Crime Laboratory Office of the Philippine National Police that said the cause of death of Atio was severe blunt traumatic injuries at both upper limbs.
“The mechanisms of death from traumatic soft tissue injuries (in this case swollen arms with hematomas based on autopsy and with history of hazing), will cause rhabdomyolysis (skeletal breakdown) resulting [in]electrolyte im-balance and acute kidney injury,” they added.
Moreover, the “increase potassium in the blood, and decrease in calcium in the blood due to muscle trauma will cause immediate death from cardiac failure (fatal conduction abnormalities).”
“This was even confirmed by Dr. Maria Cecilia Lim, a forensic pathologist from the University of the Philippines Col-lege of Medicine, during the 06 November 2017 Senate Hearing, where she stated that ‘I would agree with the im-pression of the Philippine National Police that the patient had an acute kidney failure, secondary to the rhabdomy-olysis, secondary to the multiple blunt force trauma,’” the Castillos said.