The Department of Justice (DoJ) has ordered the release of John Paul Solano, a suspect in the death of UST law freshman Horacio Castillo 3rd, to follow correct procedure.
Prosecutors ruled that Solano should not have been subjected to an inquest, a summary proceeding to determine whether a person arrested without a warrant should continue to be detained or be charged in court.
Solano, however, surrendered on Friday, September 22, to Sen. Panfilo Lacson who then turned him over to the Manila Police District (MPD). Also, Solano was not yet a suspect, but only a “person of interest.”
As a result, Solano, a medical technologist who claims he was only summoned by Aegis Juris Fraternity members in the morning of September 17 to help revive Castillo after hazing rites, was released “for further investigation.”
Solano is expected to be released this morning once the MPD receives the DoJ’s release order, said lawyer Paterno Esmaquel.
Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva prepared the resolution, which was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.
Catalan, however, clarified that Solano was not yet off the hook because the case would still undergo preliminary investigation on October 4 and 9.
Unlike in inquest proceedings, Solano will be given the chance to refute the charges against him during the preliminary investigation.
“The preliminary investigation that would be conducted would only mean that he will have the opportunity or chance to file his answer but it would depend upon the panel whether or not probable cause exists. If there is, we will file the case in court. If there is none, we will dismiss it,” Catalan said.
‘No arrest to speak of’
In the DoJ order, prosecutors noted that in the case of Solano, “there was no arrest to speak of” since Senior Police Officer 1 Jorlan Taluban had admitted that the 27-year-old turned himself in to the police through Lacson.
“It must be emphasized that at the time when the police authorities were looking for respondent [Solano], he was not then considered a suspect but only as a person of interest,” the resolution read.
Moreover, the complaint of the police for violation of Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, or perjury, “is not proper for inquest investigation considering its summary nature,” as perjury only carries a penalty of imprisonment from six months and one day to two years and four months, it added.
As for the other complaints, murder, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law and robbery, the DOJ said: “suffice it to state that the adverted incident happened on September 17, 2017 and aside from respondent Solano, all the other respondents herein are at large.”
The MPD on Monday filed criminal cases against Solano and other members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.
Aside from Solano, also charged were Ralph Trangia, Arvin R. Balag, Mhin Wei R. Chan, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre, Jason Adolfo L. Robiños, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Mathew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabili, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.
Antonio Arizala Trangia, father of Ralph Trangia, was also charged as the Mitsubishi pickup vehicle that transported Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital was under his name.
Rosemarie Trangia, mother of Ralph, was charged with obstruction of justice for helping his son flee to Chicago via Taiwan.
Also charged were “several other unidentified members of the Aegis Juris and Regina Sorority.”
WITH ASHLEY JOSE