Senate to unseal fratman’s testimony

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THE entire Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution authorizing the “declassification” of the testimony of John Paul Solano in a September 25 executive session concerning the death of hazing victim Horacio Castillo 3rd.

Senate Resolution 529, authored by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, was signed by 22 other senators who eventually became co-authors of the resolution.

The resolution authorized Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, to “make public” Solano’s testimony.

Section 11 (3) of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation states that, “testimony taken or material presented in an executive session, or any summary thereof, shall not be made public, in whole or in part, unless authorized by the Committee.”


But Section 128 of the same Senate Rules states that “confidential matters taken up by the Senate shall be considered strictly confidential until the Senate, by two-thirds vote of all its members, decides to lift the ban of secrecy.”

“After careful consideration of the issues, the undersigned members of the Senate have decided to authorize the Chairmen of the said Committees to make public the testimony of Mr. John Paul Solano given in an executive session as specified in the Senate Rules Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation,” the resolution states.

Lacson and Gordon jointly conducted the probe into the circumstances that led to the death of Castillo, a freshman law student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), on September 17 after attending initiation rites of the Aegis Juris Fraternity. His parents learned of his death on September 18.

During the inquiry, Solano, a medical technologist, withheld the names of the alleged frat members who may have had a direct involvement in the fatal hazing of Castillo, also known as Atio.

But Solano, 27, who is on leave from the fraternity, told the senators he could identify them in an executive session.

Present at the executive session were Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Sherwin Gatchalian, Zubiri, Lacson and Solano’s lawyer, Paterno Esmaquel.

“He named at least six frat members and this is important in the investigation. He mentioned a lot of details. This will be very important in the case to be filed by the MPD (Manila Police District) against the frat members,” Zubiri said in a chance interview on September 26.

Solano supposedly told the senators that four of the six frat men accompanied him in bringing Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital (CGH).

Zubiri did not reveal who made the decision to rush Castillo to CGH instead of UST Hospital, which was closer to the Aegis Juris library, the alleged hazing venue.

Solano testified that he lied in his initial statement that he found Castillo on a sidewalk in Balut, Tondo. He said he was instructed by a frat member to make up the story.

 

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