FIVE months after the death of a freshman law student from hazing, his mother expressed frustration and anger at the alleged inaction of her son’s Catholic school on his case, prompting her to seek help from the Vatican.
“Yes, all throughout this investigation na nangyayari, UST has remained silent e. Although nagpadala sila ng pakikiramay, nagpa-Misa sila pero `yung action talaga na siguro meron pang naka-enroll na member ng fraternity hanggang ngayon wala pang action na nangyayari dun,” said Carminia Castillo, mother of Horacio “Atio” Castillo 3rd in a radio interview on Friday.
(“Although it sent its condolences, sponsored a mass, there has been no action on members of the fraternity who may still be enrolled.”)
Castillo said she was clueless on why the University of Santo Tomas (UST) has not issued an official statement, and angry because it has not acted on her son’s case.
“Wala man lang silang pahayag, hanggang ngayon di parin nila sinuspinde,` yung Aegis Juris, `di parin nila bina-ban. Hanggang ngayon they remain silent e…`Yung mga faculty member na may alam, hanggang ngayon `di man lang nila sinususpinde,” she continued.
(“It has not even issued a statement, until now, it hasn’t banned members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity. Until now, it has been silent. The faculty member who knows something has not even been suspended.”)
“Oh yes masama parin ang loob namin (we continue to be heartbroken), that’s why we are compiling everything and we are taking this to Vatican to file a complaint.”
Castillo said her family might have strong evidence that UST officials did not do anything following her son’s death and that they even tried to cover it up.
“They really waited for my son to die bago nila dinala ng ospital. Siniguro nilang patay ang anak ko. And I want all of them responsible. Pinagtakpan pa nila. Imbes na tumawag sila ng pulis.”
(“Before they brought him to the hospital, they made sure that my son was dead…They even tried to cover it up instead of calling the police.”)
It was mid-October in 2017 when police said that the Aegis Juris Fraternity members tried to conceal the law student’s death.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) presented to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Drugs several Facebook screenshots of conversations among Aegis Juris members after Castillo died on September 17 and of their discussions the following day when the news broke.
Prosecutors are still finalizing what kind of complaint they will file against UST, Castillo’s mom said.
“Gusto naming mapagtibay pa ang reklamo namin. Meron kaming sapat na ebidensya na they are not doing anything.”
(“We would like to strengthen our complaint. We have enough evidence that they are not doing anything.”)
Despite the frustration, Castillo said she has tried to find solace in her son’s death because of the anti-hazing law.
“He often told me na [that]ma, I want to make a change. And kahit na wala na siya physically (even if he’s physically gone), he really made a change.”
“I am grateful to the senators and congressmen who strengthened the anti-hazing law. I hope that in the future, we can save a lot of kids, students – law students, medicine students…because the lives of our children are important, our youth because they are the future leaders and they are the ones who will give significance to the lives of people, the ones who give value to our country so we need to strengthen [the law],” she said.
Her voice broke as she recalled how she and her husband found their son’s body – unidentified and stacked against other dead bodies in the morgue.
Castillo died from injuries he sustained during the initiation rites of the Aegis Fraternity last September 17.
The Department of Justice reopened the preliminary investigation on the death of Castillo after the affidavit of suspect-turned-witness,’ Mark Ventura, came out, linking officers and members of the fraternity.
It was originally set for resolution after the hearings ended in 2017.
The Supreme Court has ordered UST Law Dean Nilo Divina and 20 other suspects to respond to the disbarment complaint filed against them.
WITH A REPORT FROM FRANCE CAUBANG