MARK Ventura, a witness to the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo 3rd, is expected to appear during the resumption of the Senate hearing today to reveal everything he knows about the incident, Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said on Sunday.
Ventura was a former officer of the Aegis Juris fraternity and was present during Castillo’s initiation rites on September 17 held at the fraternity library along Laon-Laan Street in Manila. He was admitted to the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) in October.
Gatchalian said Ventura may narrate the incident even if he already executed an affidavit.
“Wala namang problema kung ikukuwento niyang muli ‘yung inilahad niya sa affidavit. Kami po ay ibang branch of government naman. Sa tingin ko walang problema kung ikukuwento niya [There would be othing wrong if he will narrates what he stated in his affidavit. The Senate is a separate branch of government and I see no problem with it],” Gatchalian said in an interview aired over DZBB.
He noted that there had been several instances in the past when a state witness was allowed to appear in congressional hearings.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd will present Ventura during the hearing jointly conducted by the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs; Justice and Human Rights; and Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
In his affidavit, Ventura claimed that 10 Aegis Juris men joined the initiation rites while others served as lookouts outside the fraternity library. Fraternity members had been drinking as loud music blared during the incident, he said.
According to him, fraternity members repeatedly punched Castillo’s arms until they swelled. They then hit his legs with a paddle.
It was during the hitting of the paddle when Castillo collapsed, according to Ventura.
Gatchalian, author of Senate Bill No. 199 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2016, which seeks to introduce stiffer penalties against fraternities, sororities, and other organizations involved in hazing, expects officials and members of the Aegis Juris fraternity to appear in the hearing.
The senator said the members of the fraternity would likely be cited in contempt if they will not show up.
The senator also said the meeting attended by 19 members of the fraternity on September 17 at a hotel in Quezon City should be investigated as it could have been arranged to discuss attempts to cover up the incident.
The senator said the mere fact that the meeting was held at an expensive hotel indicates that senior officials of the fraternity were involved.
“They are only students. I don’t think they have the capability to rent a boardroom or a function room. I’ve been to Novotel several times and it was not cheap. So for students, it would be very expensive,” Gatchalian said.