June 24, 2018, 11:24 am
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DOJ files criminal charges vs 10 frat members over Castillo death

THE Justice Department yesterday filed criminal charges against 10 members of Aegis Juris Fraternity in connection with the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III last September.

In a 46-page resolution, the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors led by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva found probable cause to indict Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Marcelino Bagtang, Jose Miguel Salamat and Robin Ramos for violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law. The panel recommended no bail for all the accused.

Prosecutors also recommended the filing of perjury charges against John Paul Solano, who took Atio to the Chinese General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

But the DOJ dismissed all charges against UST law dean Nilo Divina and Arthur Capili, faculty secretary of the UST -Faculty of Civil Law, for lack of evidence.

Divina, in a statement, said he was relieved that he was finally cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I have always maintained my full innocence throughout this unfortunate incident, and thankfully, this has now been established beyond question. As they say, the moral arc of the universe may be long, but it bends towards justice,” said the law dean, who is also a member of AJF.

“I continue to pray for justice for Atio and have full faith in our legal system,” he said.

“I would also like to thank all my colleagues and clients for their unwavering support, as well as their unflinching trust in me. I share with you this vindication against the attempt to tarnish my reputation, which I have painstakingly built and safeguarded throughout the years,” he added.

Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. said the prosecutors based their resolution on the testimony of AJF member Mark Ventura, who has been admitted to the Witness Protection Program. Ventura was present during Castillo’s initiation rites.

“The principal basis is the testimony of witness Mark Ventura who is covered under the witness protection program… because his testimony appears to be credible and believable,” Catalan said

Ventura testified that on September 17, 2017 at the fraternity library located on Laong Laan St., Sampaloc, Manila, around 2 a.m., Castillo came out in a duck walk position and was pushed and pulled by the fraternity masters.

The complaint against other fraternity members Jason Adolfo Robinos, Aeron Salientes, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Zimon Pedro, Alex Bose, Leo Lalusis, Lennert Bryan Galicia, Nathan Anarna, Chuck Siazar and Karl Matthew Villanueva have been dismissed for lack of probable cause.

Catalan said that other fraternity members mentioned in Ventura’s affidavit will be the subject of another preliminary investigation. They are Zac Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Capulong, Kim Cyrill Roque, Ged Villanueva, Edric Pilapil and RR Magbuhos.

The Manila Police Department filed a complaint against the fraternity members before the DOJ on Sept. 25, 2017 while Castillo’s parents submitted a supplemental complaint on Oct. 9, 2017.

The MPD named 18 respondents in its complaint for murder, robbery and in violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.

Castillo’s parents filed charges of murder, robbery, and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law against 31 individuals, including Divina. They also charged 23 respondents of committing four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.
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