MANILA -- Members of the Aegis Juris fraternity and University of Santo Tomas (UST) law dean, Nilo Divina, are set to appear before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday for the preliminary investigation on the criminal charges filed against them in connection with the death of UST law freshman Horacio ‘Atio’ Castillo III.
The Castillo family has filed a supplemental complaint naming Divina, UST law professor and Aegis Juris members Arthur Capili, Nathan Anarna, Lennert Bryan Galicia and Chuck Siazar as well as Vicente Garcia, owner of the building where the alleged hazing took place as respondents in the case.
Also named respondents are the trustees of the Aegis Foundation Inc. namely William Merginie, Cezar Tirol, Oscar Ce, Alexander Flores, Alvin Dysangco, Emmanuel Velasco, Henry Pablo, Gabrial Robeniol, Michael Joseph Fernandez, Allan Christopher Agati, Paulino Yusi, Arnel Bernardo and Edwin Uy.
The said respondents are set to submit their answers to the criminal charges on Monday through their counter-affidavits.
Divina has also been placed under immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) as “persons of interest” of the DOJ.
The release of the updated lookout order was made following the revelations made by Aegis Juris fratman Marc Anthony Ventura who decided to turn state witness in the case.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente to place the 46 persons under the supplemental LBO in Castillo’s case including the UST law dean.
The new order brought to 67 the total number of individuals now covered by LBO in connection with Castillo's fatal hazing.
Earlier, Aguirre issued an ILBO covering only 20 members of the Aegis Juris fraternity linked in Castillo’s death.
Divina welcomes the decision of Ventura to come out and shed light on the facts is a most welcome development.
“I trust that Mr. Ventura tell the whole truth in the spirit of remorse. I hope that others will follow suit,” Divina said in a statement.
He also commended Aguirre for his relentless efforts to reach out to possible witnesses by offering them protection through the Witness Protection Program this only shows his commitment to ferret out the truth and bring to justice those who may be responsible.
For inclusion in the look-out bulletin, Divina said “it is indeed unfortunate it has become increasingly clear that I have no liability because I have no prior actual knowledge of the alleged hazing incident and I am not a party to any cover-up. Nevertheless, I will comply with whatever order the DOJ may issue.”
“In fact, I just came from two overseas business trips. In both cases, I had to cut short my trip and adjust my schedule to be able to attend to Senate Committee and DOJ hearings. I am committed to fulfill my duties that require my presence. At the same time, I will not hesitate to challenge any act which transgresses my right. I remain confident that in time my name will be cleared and I will be vindicated,” he said.
In a related development, Aguirre said that Venutra would be dropped as a respondent in the charges of murder, hazing and obstruction of justice filed by Castillo's parents and the Manila Police District against 37 individuals after he submitted a tell-all affidavit to the DOJ last week.
"Mr. Ventura will be dropped as a respondent. That would be a consequence of his being a state witness," Aguirre said over the weekend.
Ventura was accepted in full coverage of the witness protection program immediately after he turned himself to the DOJ and submitted his six-page affidavit where he named 23 frat brothers involved in initiation rites on Castillo in their library last Sept.17.
In other cases, state witnesses - despite acceptance in WPP coverage - are still indicted in court as the DOJ would just manifest before the court their eligibility and seek their exclusion as accused.
Aguirre said the DOJ has found Ventura as a credible witness upon review of his eligibility for WPP.
"For you to be qualified under WPP, you should not appear to be the most guilty. And he is not the most guilty upon our assessment," he explained.
"We saw that it was very voluntary in his part to testify. He said he's ready to face the consequences of his decision with respect to his membership in the fraternity. He's willing to be expelled," the DOJ chief further bared.
Aguirre also pointed out that since Ventura is the lone witness, his testimony is necessary to successfully prosecute the possible cases against the people liable for Castillo's death.
"We don't know if there will be more witnesses. But even if we only have him, his testimony is already strong enough," he added.
In a six-page affidavit submitted to the DOJ, Ventura said the 23 members of their fraternity were all present during Castillo's initiation rites held in their library last Sept. 17.
Ventura, who participated in the hazing gave nine new names - Edric Pilapil, Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Kapulong, Kim Cyrill Roque and Ged Villanueva.
He also confirmed the participation of their fraternity president Arvin Balag, master initiator Axel Munro Hipe and 12 other members already charged before the DOJ - Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Daniel Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Matthew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat, Leo Lalusis, Alex Bose and Robin Ramos.
Ventura also recalled a female companion of Bose present in the library during the initiation rites.
Ventura is among the 37 respondents facing charges for murder, robbery, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, perjury and obstruction of justice in the DOJ. (PNA)