MANILA -- Former Aegis Juris official Marc Ventura faced the Senate on Monday but refused to name the frat men present during the initiation rites which led to the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III on September 17.
During the resumption of the hearing on Atio’s hazing death, Ventura, who is now under the government’s witness protection program (WPP), said that his lawyers advised him against naming the frat men present during the initiation rites.
An apologetic Ventura, who also refused to say how many frat men were present during the initiation rites, said that he will do so “in the proper court.”
However, this did not stop senators who were members of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs from questioning Ventura about the events that transpired before Atio’s death.
Ventura was forced to admit that there were four frat men who hit Atio after being pressed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. He said that he was not one of them.
He, meanwhile, said that it took them 30 to 40 minutes before Atio was brought to the Chinese General Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila because they were”scared” and that some tried to prevent them from doing so.
Senator Grace Poe, for her part, asked Ventura why he changed lawyers.
Ventura said that after speaking with his family, he decided to tell the truth and felt more confident to testify now that his lawyers are not connected with the Aegis Juris fraternity.
Last October 18, the Senate panel bared the closed-door transcript of John Paul Solano, a prime suspect in the hazing death Atio, which he revealed in an executive session last September 25.
In Solano’s transcript, he named fratmen present during the rites including Oliver Onofre, Arvin Balag, Mark Ventura, Axel Hipe among others.
These frat men were also present during the Senate hearing but invoked their right against self-incrimination when questioned by senators.
Solano said that it was Arvin Balag, frat president, who asked him to bring Atio to the hospital and lie about finding the victim dumped on a sidewalk in Balut, Tondo. Balag is currently detained in the Senate after being cited for contempt. (PNA)