A SUSPECT in the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo 3rd is now in the custody of
Manila police after surrendering to Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday.
Solano surrendered to Lacson in the senator’s office at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City about 3:40 p.m. before being motored to the Manila Police District (MPD).
The law dean of the University of Santo Tomas, Nilo Divina, was present.
“We would like to thank Senator Lacson and the UST school office for this breakthrough for helping us in the investigation of Castillo’s case,” Supt. Erwin Margarejo, MPD spokesman said.
Castillo’s mother, Carmina, took Solano’s surrender as a step forward but reiterated: “I want justice, I want conviction.”
She said she wanted those involved to tell her what they did to her son.
“I want them to tell me how they killed my son, every detail, who was there? Who saw it? Who made it happen? How? What time? Where?” she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd offered the Witness Protection Program (WPP) to those who would shed light on the incident as he disclosed that there were two witnesses who surfaced and offered to cooperate in the investigation.
Aguirre did not name the witnesses but said one had called him up while the other went to see him personally.
“If they want to tell the truth or clear their names they can come to my office and we will place them under the WPP,” Aguirre said in a statement.
“They can trust us, they have nothing to fear from us. They should fear more the ones hiding them or the ones advising them not to come out. They can be dangerous people with hidden agenda.
I ask them to come out and tell the truth and we will protect them under the WPP,” Aguirre said.
Under the WPP, witnesses will be given actual protection, security and benefits under Republic Act 6981 (Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act). This includes benefits of a safe house, monthly allowance, security protection, hospitalization and medicines, and other privileges.
“The WPP is the only entity empowered under the law to secure witnesses to a crime and to take care of them,” Aguirre said, citing the WPP law or Republic Act 6981.
Margarejo, the MPD spokesman, said Solano would undergo the usual procedure in an investigation.
“What is important is for him to undergo the usual procedure – the booking process, fingerprinting, mug shots, medical exams and the judicial affidavit,” he said.
Margarejo also said that police would be filing a perjury case against Solano for violating Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.
In an interview in Lacson’s office, Solano apologized to the Castillo family for giving false information.
“First and foremost, I would like to apologize for giving a false statement for that matter to the family of Atio (Castillo) and also for the death of their son. I would shed light to this matter through my attorney. They are preparing a statement for me,” he said.
In his first affidavit, Solano said he found Castillo in Tondo, Manila at about 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Solano said that he flagged down a pick-up truck that brought him and Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital where the student was declared dead on arrival.
However, CCTV (closed circuit television) footage in the barangay (village) showed that there was no incident of a body being dumped in the exact place where Solano supposedly found Castillo.
Solano said he was not present during the initiation rites and that his involvement was to give Castillo cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after fraternity members had called him for medical assistance. He said he was a registered medical technologist.
“They were in chaos at that time. I was not there, and they needed medical assistance. I’m a medical health provider so more or less they would call me,” he said, denying his role in recruiting Castillo.
“More or less he was half-dead. I can’t give final verdict that he was dead because I am not a doctor. He was unconscious. I did give (him) CPR and then when I can’t do anything else I brought him to the hospital,” said Solano.
Solano also said that he was “Popoy” in the exchange of chat messages among members of the Aegis Juris.
Solano said he decided to come out because of the difficult situation he has found himself in.
“Actually it’s getting worse. We can say it’s getting worse. I want to clear my name because I know myself. I am innocent,” he said.
“I’m a medical tech (technologist). I am also a UST law student last 2016. I filed an LOA (leave of absence) for my employment,” Solano said.
Lacson appealed to the other members of Aegis Juris to surrender. “The PNP knows more or less where they are. They will not be treated as common criminals because this happened during an initiation rite.”
“They are under surveillance. It appears that they are now in one place. They’re just moving from one place to another but the PNP has a good grasp of their movement,” he said.
Lacson said that Solano asked the senator to pick him up at a gasoline station along the North Luzon Expressway.
“I’ll see him on Monday,” said Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that is set to investigate Castillo’s death.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who pushed for an investigation, said the surrender of Solano was a positive development. “I welcome his surrender and appreciate Dean Divina’s efforts in facilitating Solano’s surrender.”
“The others involved should now come out of the shadows and tell all they know about Atio’s death. JP Solano should now tell everything he knows truthfully, having misled everyone from the start,” he said.
“Our stricter recommendations will be for the good of all fraternities and similar organizations. We want to put an end to frat-related violence and death,” Zubiri added.
Malacañang, through presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, “strongly” condemned the “senseless killing” of Castillo.
“Government agencies are now conducting an investigation on the matter,” Abella said.
Aguirre mandated the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to coordinate with Interpol to locate one of the suspects implicated in the death of Castillo.
The order came after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) confirmed that a certain Ralph Caballes Trangia departed on Tuesday onboard Eva Air flight BR262 for Taipei, Taiwan.
Trangia is one of the 16 people covered by the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) issued by Aguirre on Wednesday.
With this, Aguirre said he would ask for the cancellation of Trangia’s passport.
“We will make representation with DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) for the cancellation of his passport,” he said.
Also covered by the ILBO were Aegis Juris fraternity members Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Marc Anthony Ventura, Axel Mundo Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Jason Adolfo Robiños, and Ralph Trangia.
Also on the list are: Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Carl Matthew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat and John Paul Solano.
with JOMAR CANLAS, CATHERINE VALIENTE, ASHLEY ERIKA JOSE AND YSABEL PADUA