THE medical technologist who brought the bloated body of hazing victim Horacio Tomas Castillo 3rd to a hospital on Sunday is now a “person of interest,” Manila police said on Tuesday.
The Manila Police District (MPD) earlier identified John Paul Solano, 27, as the “Good Samaritan” who found Castillo on a sidewalk in Tondo at 7:50 a.m. on Sunday and then hailed a pickup truck to bring the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman to the Chinese General Hospital.
It turns out Solano is also a law student in UST and may even be a member of Aegis Juris Fraternity that subjected Castillo to hazing, police said.
Moreover, footage from closed-circuit television cameras did not show anyone dumping Castillo’s body on the sidewalk on Honorio Lopez Boulevard in Balut, Tondo.
Solano was also not seen in security footages. Solano, police said, claimed he was buying a cigarette from a store and was on his way to San Lazaro Hospital where he was working as a medical technologist, when he saw the body, which he said was wrapped in a blanket.
Senior Supt. Erwin Margarejo, MPD spokesman, said Solano was a person of interest in the case because he issued contradicting statements.
Solano went to the Homicide Section of MPD last Monday to submit his sworn statement, he said.
“Solano acted like a Good Samaritan but we are still validating his statements,” Margarejo said.
Investigators have been sent to the Chinese General Hospital to determine the identities of the persons who brought the body of Castillo on Sunday.
Police are also gathering security footage of the area where fraternity house is located, Navarra Street behind the UST campus.
Dean invited for questioning
The MPD spokesman said police investigators were sent to UST on Tuesday to secure a list of faculty and students who are members of Aegis Juris Fraternity.
Margarejo said they also invited for questioning UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.
Margarejo urged Divina to make available members of the faculty and officers of Aegis Juris Fraternity for interviews with police investigators, noting that fraternity members were preventively suspended and barred from entering the UST campus in Sampaloc, Manila.
“It would be much okay if the Aegis Juris fraternity members are on the UST campus so our investigators could interview them,” he said.
Uber route crucial
The MPD on Tuesday also said it had asked Castillo’s parents to write ride-hailing app Uber to release the details of the route their son took on his way to the Aegis Juris initiation.
“We received information that the victim even used Uber to bring his personal things to his house,” Margarejo told a press conference.
Castillo’s parents, Carmina and Horacio Jr., said on Monday their son asked their permission to allow him to join Aegis Juris’ welcome rites on Saturday, assuring them that there would be no hazing or physical harm.
The victim told his parents he would not use his car and instead use Uber, Margarejo said.
Margarejo said police were looking at other persons of interest, but he declined to mention their names.
Also on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation and file charges against those behind Castillo’s death.
“Soft spoken but substantial,” “articulate,” “cheerful” was how some professors and friends remembered Castillo.
UST faculty member Leo Sanchez, who taught Castillo in his Retorika class in 2016, described him as a quiet but brilliant learner.
“Castillo speaks his mind articulately. He is aware of the issues and he speaks not to impress or boast but to express his concern and knowledge of the issues,” he said.
“Even if he’s a big person, he’s a sweet boy and you know he’s serious with his studies and with his dreams,” he added.
Niccolo Ventenilla, former president at the UST Chorus of Arts and Letters, described “Hor” as a “very dear friend.”
“Hor always puts in an effort to make other people smile. During our Korea trip in June 2015, he was very friendly and chummy with everybody, even with the professors who accompanied us. He was always very cheerful and his cheerfulness was infectious,” Ventenilla said.
Annie Laurel, former vice president for external affairs at the UST Arts and Letters Economics Society, said Castillo even mentored younger members in their political party, the UST Students’ Democratic Party.
“He always made sure that everyone felt at home even when at times you’d feel like he’s only messing around. Deep down, when you get to know him more, you’ll see how genuine and sincere he is to the people around him,” said Laurel.
She also recalled Castillo’s active student life and said he always frequented the student council office. “He had a strong principle about life and it’s devastating that we lost a true and amazing guy like him,” said Laurel.
Castillo was born on May 26, 1995 and graduated from the University of Santo Tomas on June 5, 2017 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science.
WITH YSABEL PADUA