MANILA -- The parents of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio "Atio" Castillo III insisted that their son died from hazing injuries and not from a pre-existing heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

During the continuation of preliminary investigation on Thursday, Horacio Jr. and Carmina Castillo submitted their reply-affidavit and asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to indict the respondents on charges of murder, hazing and obstruction of justice charges filed against them.

The parents said in their 14-page reply affidavit that it is “beyond dispute” that the injuries sustained during his initiation rites at the Aegis Juris fraternity library have caused his death.

Atio’s alleged pre-existing heart condition “was not the cause of death,” his parents insist, as the fraternity members “seem to have conveniently forgotten the other provisional anatomical diagnosis.”

They said the medico-legal report of the Crime Laboratory Office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) had concluded that the cause of death of Atio was “severe blunt traumatic injuries, both upper limbs as shown in the gross autopsy findings.”

“(These were) blunt traumatic injuries, right and left upper extremities, and that the same was still pending histopathological examination,” the parents said.

“Clearly, therefore, the allegation of respondents that Atio’s death was caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is patently without merit,” they stressed.

The parents said the same report indicated “the mechanisms of death from traumatic soft tissue injuries (in this case swollen arms with hematomas based on autopsy and with history of hazing), would cause rhabdomyolysis (skeletal breakdown) resulting to electrolyte imbalance and acute kidney injury.”

The report also added: “Increase potassium in the blood, and decreas calcium in the blood due to muscle trauma will cause immediate death from cardiac failure (fatal conduction abnormalities).”

“This was even confirmed by Dr. Maria Cecilia Lim, a forensic pathologist from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, during the 06 November 2017 Senate Hearing, where she stated that ‘I would agree with the impression of the Philippine National Police that the patient had an acute kidney failure, secondary to the rhabdomyolysis, secondary to the multiple blunt force trauma’,” read the reply-affidavit.

Atio’s parents said the respondents should be held liable for violation of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code for murder as all the elements of murder are present in the case.

“First, our son was killed, Second, respondents killed him during the final rites on September 17, 2017. Third, Atio’s killing was attended by abuse of superior strength, treachery and evident premeditation. And fourth, the killing is not parricide or infanticide,” they noted.

Furthermore, the complainants said the respondents should also be put on trial for robbery due to missing personal belongings of their son, for perjury and obstruction of justice for trying to cover-up for the crime.

Because of these findings, Atio’s parents insisted that there is probable cause to charge the 31 respondents before a trial court for violation of of murder, robbery and violating Republic Act 8049 which is known as the Anti-Hazing Law while 23 respondents accused of committing four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree 1829.

Among the respondents are Aegis Juris president, Arvin Balag. The reply-affidavit was received by the prosecution panel led by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva.

Earlier, the claim of Aegis Juris fraternity members that Atio died of a pre-existing heart condition, specifically due to “cardiac failure due to his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy” or an enlarged heart condition.

In his counter-affidavit, Aegis Juris member John Paul Solano claimed that the MPD’s initial medico legal report did not make any finding that Atio died of such disease, and not hazing.

The panel of prosecutors set the filing of rejoinder on November 16.

Castillo died after attending the "welcoming rites" of the fraternity last September 16. (PNA)