MEDICAL experts debunked the claim by a member of the Aegis Juris Fraternity that the death of a neophyte during its initiation rites was caused by a pre-existing heart condition, which the victim allegedly had.
At the resumption of the Senate investigation into the death of Horacio Castillo 3rd, Joseph Palmero, medico legal division chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) crime laboratory, told senators that the victim died of severe traumatic injuries.
Palmero made the clarification in response to Sen. Grace Poe’s queries on what really caused the death of the 22-year-old freshman law student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
“The final autopsy report signed by the medico legal officer [says]the cause of death is severe blunt traumatic injuries, both upper limbs,” Palmero told the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
John Paul Solano, in his counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice (DoJ), claimed that Castillo died from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) or enlargement of the heart and not due to hazing.
Solano said he based his conclusion on the finding provided by the Manila Police District (MPD), which indicated that Castillo died due to HCM.
Palmero said during the hearing that Solano based his claims on the provisional anatomic diagnosis that was released prior to the final medico legal report.
“We released the provisional anatomic diagnosis of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy because the heart was enlarged during autopsy and there were traumatic injuries on the right and left upper extremities. Those are provisional anatomic diagnosis but we released after several days the final medico legal report with cause of death as severe blunt traumatic injuries,” Palmero said.
Prior to Palmero’s clarification, Sen. Panfilo Lacson quizzed Solano if he was aware of the term “neurogenic shock” which Castillo may have experienced when he was subjected to hazing by members of the fraternity.
Solano admitted that he did not know exactly what the term meant but that based on his own understanding it could mean neural shock.
Lacson told Solano that the extreme pain experienced by Castillo during the hazing caused neurogenic shock, which resulted in significant decrease in heart rate that may have led to loss of consciousness, stroke and cardiac arrest.
But Solano maintained that he was not aware of what Castillo had gone through and based his conclusion on the medico legal report and the death certificate, which stated that HCM was the cause of death.
Lacson informed Solano that even if Castillo had a pre-existing heart condition, it would not make him less liable.
“Assuming Atio [Castillo] has one [pre-existing heart condition] you’re still liable or [if]not you but those who participated at least,” Lacson told Solano.
Lacson said this was provided under Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that criminal liability “shall be incurred by any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended.”