Hazing held at Aegis Juris office; police file murder raps
FRESHMAN law student Horacio Castillo III, who died earlier this month, underwent hazing rites that cost his life at the office of the fraternity that recruited him, according to the Manila Police District.
Excerpts of the complaint filed by the MPD before the Department of Justice on Monday against 18 individuals indicated the initiation rites were held at the Aegis Juris Foundation Office on Laon-Laan and Navarra Streets near the University of Santo Tomas, where Castillo was a student.
The complaint said the rites occurred between midnight and 8 a.m. of Sept. 17.
Witnesses said they heard some “unusual noise” from people apparently having a drinking session inside the Aegis headquarters.
Hours later, CCTV footage installed beside the Aegis Juris office showed “a member was noticed hurriedly running towards the direction of the Aegis Juris office while another, [who] was observed busy using his cellular phone, appeared to be worried.”
The police said that based on CCTV footage, John Paul Solano was part of the convoy that brought Castillo from the Aegis Juris Foundation office to the Chinese General Hospital.
The MPD, meanwhile, asked the DoJ to prosecute Solano and 16 other members of Aegis Juris Fraternity for murder and other criminal charges, in connection with the fatal hazing of Castillo.
But Solano’s camp immediately sought the dismissal of the murder case filed against him as well as his release from detention during Monday’s inquest proceedings on the ground of lack of legal basis.
In its complaint, the MPD accused Solano and other respondents with murder in relation to Section 4 of the Republic Act of 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, perjury, obstruction of justice and robbery.
Also named respondents in the complaint for murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law were Antonio Trangia, his son Ralph, Arvin R. Balag, Mhin Wei R. Chan, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Mathew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.
The MPD took custody of Solano after he surfaced last Friday to deny he had actual participation in the hazing of Castillo.
Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva conducted the proceedings, attended by MPD officers and Castillo’s parents, Horacio II and Carminia.
Testifying before the Senate public order and illegal drugs committee chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Solano retracted his statement he was alone when he brought Castillo III to a hospital as he repeatedly invoked his right aganst self-incrimination when sought for the identities of the other fratment involved in the fatal hazing.
Solano said he was with other fratmen who took the victim to the Chinese General Hospital in Manila.
Riding his motorcycle, he tailed the two vehicles, one of which carried the “half-conscious victim.”
Pressed by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III why Morales, a freshman law student was taken to CGH instead of UST Hospital which was near the frat library on Dapitan Street, where the fatal hazing occured, Solano said he merely heeded the order of his fraternity brothers.
Confronted anew by Senators Grace Poe and Bam Aquino who were the frat members with him when the victim was rushed to the hospital, Solano opted to remain silent and invoked again his right against self-incrimination.
But Solano belied any participation in the initiation rites.
He told the Senate panel he was merely called by a fellow fratman on two occasions and asked to go to the frat library.
During the first call Sunday morning, he did not ask the reason why he was being directed to go to the frat library.
Since he did not accede to the request, he said the same unidentified fratman called him anew. This time, he asked for the reason, and was informed that “somebody” collapsed.
When he arrived at the frat library, Solano recalled seeing the “half-conscious” victim lying on the floor.
He immediately checked the victim’s pupil and the pulse and administered CPR.
When nothing happened, he suggested to his fraternity brothers to bring the victim to a hospital.
Asked by Poe why was he the one summoned by the Aegis fratmen, Solano said he was a registered medical technologist. But he clarified he was on leave from the fraternity as he’s working in the clinic of his father.
He also debunked reports he recruited the victim as he did not personally know him. He said he met the victim only twice.
However, he admitted lying to authorities when he told them that the victim’s body was found somewhere in Balut, Tondo, Manila, when it actually came from the frat library near UST.
In a six-page Omnibus Motion filed through his lawyer Paterno Esmaquel, Solano asked the DoJ to stop the inquest proceedings and/or preliminary investigation of the case until his motion to dismiss had been resolved. Rey Requejo
Solano’s lawyer argued the case of murder in relation to Section 4 of the Republic Act of 8049 was considered a complex crime involving crime “mala in se” and “mala prohibita.”
He explained murder was a crime “mala in se” as it is defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code, while the Anti-Hazing Law was a crime “mala prohibita” as it was defined and penalized under a Special Law.
“Sad to say, however, there can be no complex crime if one offense is punished by a special law since both offenses must be defined and punished by the same statute,” the motion read.
“There being no complex crime of murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, then there exists no offense charged in the instant case which thereby warrants its outright dismissal,” Solano’s camp stressed.
Besides, Solano said he was not properly informed of the nature of the cause of the accusation against him and he was entitled to the right to a regular preliminary investigation of the case against him.
Since there is no proper offense filed against him, Solano said he had nothing to refute and disprove in connection with the incident.
According to him, he was willing to face and answer any accusation against him resulting from Castillo’s death as shown by his surrender, but he should be properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
“Every person is entitled to due process and the same cannot be dispensed with for the simple reason that it is the basic right duly enshrined in our Constitution,” the respondent said.
Solano recalled he was not arrested by virtue of warrantless arrest, but was placed under the custody of the MPD because of his voluntary surrender through the intercession of Senator Panfilo Lacson upon his understanding that he will cooperate and assist in the investigation of the crime.
“This being so, then the instant case against him resulting from the untimely death of the late Horacio is not and cannot be the proper subject of an inquest proceedings; otherwise, there will be an open and gross violation of herein respondent’s right to a regular preliminary investigation of the cases or cases against him,” Solano’s motion said.
Solano also manifested before the DOJ that he was revoking the waiver of detention he executed on Sept. 22, 2017 for his continued detention in MPD since the murder charges filed against him had no legal ground to stand on.
The respondent argued the purported false testimony he gave to the police should not be given weight because this was not subscribed under oath.
“Thus there is no offense of false testimony and/or perjury to speak of in this case,” Solano said in his motion.