Police: Aegis Juris alumni also present during Atio’s initiation
The Manila Police District (MPD) on Sunday said members of the Regina Juris Sorority, as well as alumni of the Aegis Juris fraternity, witnessed the fatal initiation rites of Horacio “Atio” Castillo 3rd.
MPD Director Joel Coronel said investigators have yet to identify the members of the sorority who saw the hazing of Castillo, a freshman law student at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST).
Coronel said the sorority members and the Aegis Juris alumni will also be held liable for Castillo’s death.
“There are reports that there were sorority members, Regina Juris, were present during the initiation rites.They’ll be held accountable for [violating]the Anti-Hazing Law,” Coronel said in an interview.
“It will depend on the extent of their involvement if they have knowledge (of the hazing), if they failed to report it authorities and if they prevented the hazing from being reported,” he added.
The Regina Legis et Juris Sorority or the “Queen of Laws and Justice,” is the sorority sister group of the Aegis Juris fraternity.
It was founded by 18 female UST law students on February 25, 1983. The sorority is also among the student councils of the UST Faculty of Civil Law.
Coronel said the MPD will consult with the lawyers of the Castillo family if UST College of Law Dean Nilo Divina should also be held accountable for the fate suffered by the 22-year-old Horatio.
“We have to confer first with the lawyers of the family whether Dean Divina has complicity in this particular incident but he has been very cooperative with us [and]he spoke with us,” the MPD chief said.
He added that Divina has assured assistance to the MPD’s investigation.
Divina was also invited by the Senate Committee on Public Order, headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, that will start its probe of the incident on Monday.
Coronel said there are six additional suspects in the deadly hazing incident but he did not identify them.
One of the primary suspects, Ralph Trangia, has fled to Chicago along with his mother. Authorities have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to block his passport.
Coronel said Trangia’s parents may also be charged. The vehicle owned by Trangia’s father was used to bring Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital where he was declared dead.
John Paul Solano, a member of the Aegis Juris fraternity who brought Castillo to the hospital, is detained at the MPD. Solano claimed that he was not present during the hazing and that he was only called to render medical assistance to Castillo.
On Sunday, Horatio’s parents, Carmina and Horacio Jr., went to the MPD headquarters to meet with Solano. But according to Coronel, Solano refused to see them because his lawyers were not there.
The Immigration bureau has issued Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order against members of the Aegis Juris fraternity suspected to be involved in the hazing of Castillo. They are Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Marc Anthony Ventura, Axel Mundo Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Ralph Trangia, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Mattew Rodrigo, Carl Mattew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat and Solano.
Also on Sunday, an official from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said hazing should be banned.
In an interview over radio dzBB, CHEd Executive Director Julito Vitriolo said that while Republic Act No. 8049 (anti-hazing law) recognized “dangerous practices” of fraternities or sororities, it merely regulated hazing and other dangerous forms of initiation rites.
“Matagal na rin naming minumungkahi na dapat rebisahin ang batas na ito kasi unang una, yung hazing and other forms of initiation rites na dangerous sa security ng estudyante o ng tao ay dapat hindi na hinahayaan. Dapat immediately prohibited ‘yan or outlawed (We have proposed that the law be revised because in the first place, hazing and other forms of dangerous initiation rites should not be allowed. It should be prohibited or outlawed)” Vitriolo said.
“Medyo [may]depekto yung batas, parang merong implicit or even expressed recognition na kailangan mo pa ng notice [to do hazing], wala namang gumagawa niyan [prior notice]… Ang tingin ko dapat ito ipagbawal nang tuluyan (The law is slightly defective. It’s like there is an implicit or expressed recognition that you still need a notice. No one is doing that. I think it should be banned permanently),” he added.
Doctors had said that Castillo died because of “extensive injuries.”
Vitriolo said despite the recent incident, fraternities or sororities should not be dismantled but should be regulated to correct their “bad practices.”
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre agreed that fraternities and sororities should be regulated and be registered as student organizations.
Aguirre explained that schools can monitor the activities of fraternities if these were registered as official student organizations.
“The school administration could send representatives because they would be requiring the frat to inform them when, where the initiation rites [are]to be conducted. Sino-sino members [who are the ones]to be present and the school authorities could send representative sa [in the]initiation rites. Sa bagay na yan maiiwasan [that is how to prevent deaths like Castillo’s],” Aguirre said.
The DOJ chief himself is a member of the Lex Talionis Fraternity, which counts President Rodrigo Duterte as a member.
Aguirre admitted that fraternity members will not easily cooperate in an investigation.
Aguirre said his department had been contacted by two witnesses to Castillo’s hazing.
“One of the witnesses called my office and (he claimed) to be a member of the Aegis Juris fraternity. This person knows the initiation rites that were done to Castillo. While the second witness, who was being recruited, went to my office,” Aguirre said.
The DOJ had offered protection to witnesses who will come forward to shed light on Castillo’s death through the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Under the WPP, witnesses shall be given protection, security, and benefits. These include a safe house, monthly allowance, security protection, hospitalization and medicines, and other privileges.
WITH JOMAR CANLAS AND FRANCIS EARL CUETO