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Aegis Juris fratmen plead not guilty to hazing charges

All 10 accused members of the Aegis Juris fraternity on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the hazing charges filed against them for the death of UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

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Photo by Angelika Ortega/TomasinoWeb.

All 10 accused members of the Aegis Juris fraternity on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the hazing charges filed against them for the death of UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Facing charges for violation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, the fratmen denied the allegations during the arraignment at Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, Horacio Castillo Jr., Atio’s father, said.

“Expected naman ‘yun ang defense nila, na i-deny lahat ng issues. ‘Yun yung pinaka-alibi nila,” Horacio Jr. told TomasinoWeb.

He also asserted that even though the case is “not bailable,” the accused will try to petition for bail.

“They (fratmen) will try to petition for a bail. They will try. Nagbabakasakali sila na baka makuha nila sa bail,” Horacio Jr. said.

Carmina Castillo, Atio’s mother, meanwhile, expressed her strong resolve to take down the fraternity and give justice to her son.

“Ang gusto ko is matuloy ‘to lahat. I want justice para sa anak ko, and hindi ako titigil… That’s the only justice I can get para sa anak ko,” she told the reporters.

Carmina added: “We are now ongoing with the trial. I’m happy about that. Arraignment has been finished and we are going on now. Ang main goal ko is to erase the name of that fraternity from existence, burahin talaga sila.”

The mother, however, commended the Department of Justice for the “smooth pacing of the case.”

Detained at the Manila City Jail, the 10 accused fratmen are 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.

The next hearing will be on August 14, where both sides are expected to present their evidence and witnesses before the Manila RTC.

The arraignment was originally scheduled last May but was postponed and moved due to pending motions filed by Trangia.

Atio died last September allegedly due to hazing rites performed by some members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.—with reports from Angelika Ortega

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Aegis Juris fratman guilty of obstruction of justice in Atio’s death

(UPDATED) One of the principal suspects in the killing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, John Paul Solano, has been convicted of obstruction of justice and acquitted of perjury by a Manila court.

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Photo by Julius Villavieja

(UPDATED June 18, 5:52 p.m.) One of the principal suspects in the killing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, John Paul Solano, has been convicted of obstruction of justice and acquitted of perjury by a Manila court.

In a decision promulgated by Judge Carolina Esguerra of Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 14, Solano was sentenced to an indefinite penalty of a minimum of two years, four months and one day in prison and a maximum of four years, two months and one day.

Solano, a member of Aegis Juris Fraternity brought Castillo to Chinese General Hospital after the initiation rites of the fraternity in 2017 after he was called to revive Castillo.

He initially said in his report to the police that he found Castillo’s body in Tondo, and later admitted to having given an incorrect lead to the police.

The ruling of the court states that Solano “gave false and fabricated information to mislead the police or prevent them from apprehending those responsible for the death of Castillo.”

In addition, Solano failed to convince the court that he lied because of fear of being involved in the crime, as the ruling stated that his claim was “imminent” and “speculative.”

His perjury charges were cleared due to police missteps, and he cannot be sent to prison unless a final decision has been made since both obstruction of justice and perjury are bailable charges.

Hopeful at conviction, resentful for UST’s ‘silence’

In an interview, Castillo’s parents said that they are looking at filing more complaints of obstruction of justice against several Aegis Juris members included in the Facebook group chat which discussed his death. This includes Cavite’s 5th District Board Member-elect, lawyer Kevin Anarna.

Horacio Jr. and Carmina Castillo said that the conversations in the chat group prove the obstruction of justice and the attempt to cover up the death of their son.

“We are very happy [about] the conviction of the obstruction. This is the first step to a perfect conviction,” said Carmina Castillo.

“So clearly, it can be shown ‘yong cover-up na nangyari. Hopefully, we will file cases again doon sa mga kasama, ‘yong mga lawyers, ‘yong mga involved doon sa cover-up,” Horacio Castillo Jr. added.

Castillo’s father also slammed the University’s inaction. “Wala silang cooperation, nothing,” Horacio Jr said.

The couple further added that the University has been very “silent” in the case.

Meanwhile, the ten other fraternity brothers who are currently in jail are still on trial for violating the anti-hazing law.

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61-year-old columnist nabbed at Misamis Airport

(UPDATED) She was then set for release hours later on the night of the same day after the witness asserted that she was not the actual subject of the arrest warrants.

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(UPDATED June 9, 9:50 p.m.) Sixty-one-year-old columnist Margarita Valle was arrested today, June 9, 2019 at Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental by virtue of warrants of arrest dated years ago.

The former SunStar Davao columnist and currently a Davao Today columnist was arrested by joint operatives by virtue of two warrants of arrest. She was then set for release hours later on the night of the same day after the witness asserted that she was not the actual subject of the arrest warrant.

Judge Bernadette S. Paredes-Encinareal of Regional Trial Court (RTC) 10th Judicial Region, Branch 36, Calamba, Misamis Occidental issued the arrest warrant for multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and Damage to Property with no bail recommended dated December 29, 2011.

The other arrest warrant for arson was issued by Judge Aniceto Galon Jr. of RTC 9th Judicial Region, Branch 20, Pagadian City with bail recommended fixed at P24,000.00 dated September 4, 2006.

Valle was in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) after she conducted a writing workshop for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and was about to board the plane for Davao City when she was arrested.

Valle’s son Rius Valle, who is one of the organizers of Lakbayan and Lumad Bakwit School in UST said that her mother was illegally arrested for “unknown reason.”

“She was set to go home after attending a training-workshop in CDO and about to board a plane to Davao when the arrest happened,” said Rius Valle in his tweet on Twitter.

In his Facebook post, Rius Valle said that those warrants of arrest are obviously “trumped up charges.”

Rius Valle added that her mother already made a phone call to Sister Mila Gimeno of the Missionaries of Assumption and confirmed that she was brought to Camp Avilon, Pagadian City.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in their Facebook post that the reason for Valle’s arrest remains unclear, adding that Maj. Napoleon Carpio of CIDG-10 confirmed her arrest but is not under their custody since she was arrested by CIDG-9 operatives.

Moreover, College Editors Guild of the Philippines condemned Valle’s “illegal arrest” in their statement, saying that it proves the “regime’s continuous efforts to silence individuals who are bravely fighting for human rights and democracy amidst the worsening political climate in the country.”

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Putting awareness in actions: going green the Thomasian way

After inciting awareness on the status of our environment, Greener UST is now back on its second phase to solidify our environmental awareness into actions.

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Becoming environmentally conscious can be an arduous task for a single person working towards an ambitious goal. This challenging aspect of having an advocacy to promote was addressed by representatives of the Thomasian community last Monday and through their collaborative efforts, they forged a link together to put forth a long-term cause for the environment and for both the present and future Thomasians.

After inciting awareness on the status of the Philippine environment and receiving positive feedback during its first phase, Greener UST is back on its second phase and is now solidifying our environmental awareness into actions through The Green Congress: Project Pitching.

“Hinihintay talaga namin itong second phase for the project para ma-involve ‘yung mga students but we’re still implementing the movement sa mga projects and, so far, ‘yung biggest changes na nangyari is for this Agape and Paskuhan movement, ‘yung bagong committee, which is yung Waste Segregation Committee,” shared by UST Central Student Council (CSC) Auditor and Project Head of Greener UST, Adrian Lee Fernando, in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Representatives from the Local Student Councils (LSC) and university-wide student organizations gathered last November 26 at the Tan Yan Kee (TYK) Auditorium to pitch for possible projects and environmental campaigns gearing towards a greener university life with long-term effect, “It’s one of the frustrations of Fr. Dexter,” Mr. Allan de Guzman, the Office Staff for Student Activities said, “…dapat hindi lang pang Paskuhan, dapat pang future.” Paskuhan, as one of the University’s biggest event, requires careful and detailed planning–starting from the overall decorations, logistics, pocket events, and of course, the much-awaited concert and firework display. However, the aftermath of the festivities is not as pleasant to the eyes compared to the glistening decor as overfilled trash bins improperly thrown wastes litter the University grounds and De Guzman was firm to remind the participants the need for environment-related agendas such as these, to not be short-lived hence, he also reiterated the importance of documentation in solidifying plans.

The usual seminars on environmental awareness and policies such as plastic-free, were expected by Fernando to be pitched during The Green Congress; however unexpected yet promising and innovative events fit for the Thomasian community were also convened and recommended, “[…] Hindi ko na-expect is yung environmental fair kasi sa tagal na ng stay ko sa UST, hindi pa tayo nagkakaroon ng gan’ong fair in support, sa mga projects”, he said.

Using Social media in promoting this environmental cause within the University was also the common denominator among the ideas of the participants, De Guzman and Fernando also encouraged this initiative because of its money-saving benefits as well as its maximizing effect inside the University. In the end, the plausible events were sifted from the pitched ideas of the LSCs and were then categorized into three: Policies, Strategies, and Projects await for the Thomasians.

Going environmental-friendly has been one of the goals of the University for almost ten years now when in 2008, a complete ban on the use of styrofoam made materials were implemented. Today, these renewed small plans of actions are becoming catalysts for change. Even with small steps, these efforts are becoming self-evident within the campus and Fernando was grateful that their continued efforts in achieving a greener University has been getting enthusiastic support from the students, faculty members, and even, people in the administration.

In reality, looking out for the environment is easier said than done but with the collective and synergistic efforts initiated by a group of individuals with a determined belief in the same cause, success is not far from the horizon. As Thomasians, we must always practice what we preach and put our awareness into actions in order to have progress. In putting forward an environmental cause, we must understand that the concept of praxis is very much needed in anticipating a greener and environmentally responsible University culture.

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