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Atio’s mom ‘overjoyed’ with stronger anti-hazing law, son’s ‘painful purpose’

The mother of slain UST law freshman and hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was “overjoyed” with the passage of the stronger anti-hazing law, stating it is her son’s “painful purpose.”

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Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo/TomasinoWeb.

The mother of slain UST law freshman and hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was “overjoyed” with the passage of the stronger anti-hazing law, stating it is her son’s “painful purpose.”

“We are overjoyed with the law being signed. We thank the President and all the senators and congressmen for putting their hands together in passing this law,” Carmina Castillo told TomasinoWeb in a text message.

She added: “This (new anti-hazing law) is for our generation. This law gives meaning to our son[,] Atio, a painful purpose.”

Atio died last September allegedly due to the hazing rites performed by some of the members of Aegis Juris Fraternity.

Almost a year into Atio’s hazing death, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 into law, which bans all forms of hazing and imposes stiffer penalties if a hazing rite leads to death, rape, sodomy or mutilation.

The definition of hazing has now also been extended to any “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant or member as part of an initiation rite or a requirement for continuing membership in a fraternity or sorority or organization.”

The measure is an amendment of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, which allows regulated hazing when there is consent from the school authorities or organization head. 

Carmina slammed the act of hazing, moreover, as a “false notion of brotherhood.”

“Hazing is a false notion of brotherhood, serving loyalty to the fraternity. Loyalty must only be for our family, country and God,” she expressed.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the authors of the amended law, dedicated the measure to Atio.

“We dedicate this to Atio Castillo. He did not die in vain and his legacy lives on in this law,” he said in an interview.

“[The law] will make all fratmen stop senseless violence in their initiation rites. It will strengthen unity against violence and promote peace in and out of our campuses,” he added.

The 22-year-old Thomasian’s death sparked moves to amend the previous anti-hazing policy.

Last March 23, the 10 Aegis Juris members charged in Atio’s hazing death surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The arraignment of the indicted fraternity members will be on July 24.—B. Laforga

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Mental health forum sheds light on Mental Health Law

Last October 16, the Central Student Council organized Vitellius: the Mental Health Week which aimed to encourage Thomasians in spreading mental health awareness, support and self-care.

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Photo by Alexa Taay

As the society continues to progress for a more inclusive society, several platforms were made available to dispel the stigma surrounding various issues, especially the mental health.

Last October 16, the Central Student Council organized Vitellius: the Mental Health Week in line with World Mental Health Day and the newly-minted Mental Health Law,  which aimed to encourage Thomasians in spreading mental health awareness, support and self-care.

A roster of speakers including principal sponsor and bill author Senator Risa Hontiveros and psychology and medicine professionals, Mr. Renz Argao, Mr. Ferdinand Nykko Bautista, R.N., Dr. Marc Eric Reyes and Dr. Ma. Gia Sison shared their insight and experiences in front of a Thomasian audience in the UST Medicine Auditorium.

“(…) the more long-term implications of having a mental health law in the first place is addressing the terrible stigma which surrounds mental illness and a move away from institutionalizing people with mental health concerns,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros in a bid to continuously engage and educate others regarding mental health. Keeping conversations alive on Mental health transitions our culture into one that would normalize mental health dialogues without attaching stigma.

The presence of Republic Act 11036 opens the implementation of Suicide Prevention Protocols and Policies within schools and universities. Dr. Marc Reyes advised action to sustain mental health awareness after the World Mental Health Month. He emphasized on training faculty, staff and students into Suicide First-Aid Responders who will follow the guidelines and training manual drafted by mental health professionals.

Sustained mental health awareness beyond the month of October gives a person the courage to accept and acknowledge the possibility of having mental health problems. According to Dr. Gia Sison, the self-stigma on mental problems prevents the individual to seek help from peers, guidance counselors and therapists. She stressed that acknowledgment is a milestone because it prompts self-care, peer support and eventual mental health advocacy.

Other topics touched upon the forum include improving resiliency through making connections, accepting change, and creating safe spaces discussed by Mr. Renz Argao, the importance of taking care of oneself by Mr. Ferdinand Nykko Bautista.

In solidarity and support for Mental Health Awareness, attendees are given green ribbons representing mental health support upon registration. Aside from the forum, the Central Student Council celebrated Mental Health Week by hosting a Poster Making Competition and Open Mic Session events last October 17 and 19 respectively.

Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Law was signed earlier this year last June 21. The landmark law is responding to the rising number of Filipinos suffering through some form of mental illness. Funding and budget are intended to provide accessible health care and facilities in schools and barangays to persons with mental health needs.

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Atio’s parents hopeful as trial continues

With “strong” evidence paired with the assembly of a “good” prosecution team, parents of the slain UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III remained hopeful that justice will be served for their son as the hearing of the case continued on Tuesday, Sep. 4.

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Photo by Robert Lionel Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

With “strong” evidence paired with the assembly of a “good” prosecution team, parents of the slain UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III remained hopeful that justice will be served for their son as the hearing of the case continued on Tuesday, Sep. 4.

“Pinakamalakas na ebidensya [is] me discovering our son dead, na meron siyang tama sa braso. Indication na ‘yan ng hazing,” Carmina Castillo, mother of the 22-year old alleged hazing victim, told the reporters.

The parents also lauded the prosecution for assembling a “strong and great team” fighting for Atio.

“With a lot of people na tumutulong naman. We are very happy and we’re very glad na nakita n’yo naman ang gagaling nung prosecution. They assembled a very good team to fight for Atio,” Horacio Castillo Jr., Atio’s father, said.

They, moreover, believed that there would be “perfect conviction” of the accused.

“And talagang sigurado ako perfect conviction. Even those na hindi pa nandon, yung idadagdag pang mga tao perfect conviction pa rin ang kalalabasan,” Carmina said.

‘A piece of wooden trash’

One of the evidence presented during the hearing was the paddle which was allegedly used to hit Atio.

It was “painful” to see the evidence, particularly the paddle, Atio’s mother expressed.

“Mas masakit na makita namin yung paddle, and you know for Aegis Juris (AJ), for them, [it is their] crowning glory. But to us, it’s a piece of wooden trash na ginamit nila sa pagpatay sa anak namin,” Carmina said.

According to hazing suspect-turned-state witness Marc Ventura’s affidavit filed on Oct. 24 last year, Atio received a total of five hits from the paddle, where the fifth strike resulted in Atio’s collapse.

Carmina also claimed that the accused waited for Atio to die, saying AJ members “didn’t do anything when their son was getting weak.”

“I will stress hinintay nilang mamatay. Mahina na ‘yung anak ko, nanghihina na, wala pa rin silang ginawa. Talagang the purpose was to wait for him to die,” she said.

Aside from presentation of evidence, AJ member Ventura stood in today’s hearing for his cross-examination.

In the first hearing last Aug. 14, Ventura appeared before the court and testified against the fraternity.

Meanwhile, all 10 accused AJ members were present in today’s hearing, namely: 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.

Last July 24, the accused pleaded “not guilty” in the violation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995. (READ: Aegis Juris fratmen plead not guilty to hazing charges)

The hearing was conducted at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20. With reports from Angelika Ortega

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Ikalawang bersyon ng NSH, Straw HelpDesk, inilunsad

Inilunsad ng Student’s Rights and Welfare (Straw) ng bansa ang ikalawang edisyon ng National Student’s Handbook (NSH) at ang Straw HelpDesk, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

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Inilunsad ng Student’s Rights and Welfare (Straw) ng bansa ang ikalawang edisyon ng National Student’s Handbook (NSH) at ang Straw HelpDesk, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

Layong protektahan ng mga nasabing proyekto ang mga mag-aaral laban sa pang-aabuso ng kanilang mga karapatan.

Nakatala sa NSH ang mga karapatan ng bawat mag-aaral at ang mga batas na kayang prumutekta sa kanila mula sa mga natatampok na mga isyu tulad ng pagtaas ng matrikula, hazing at kalayaan sa pagpapahayag.

Bagamat halos katulad pa rin ng naunang bersyon ng NSH, ilan sa mga kalakip ng bagong bersyon ay mga impormasyon ukol sa karapatan ng bawat mag-aaral na bumuo ng organisasyon, sa kalidad na edukasyon at laban sa diskriminasyon.

Upang masigurado na magiging inklusibo ang nilalaman ng NSH sa lahat ng Pilipino, binabalak na ng organisasyon na maglabas din ng bersyon na nakalathala sa iba’t ibang diyalekto.

“In terms of NSH sa iba’t ibang dialects at iba’t ibang languages, we’re looking for partners that could help us. Since we’re just starting, our volunteers are not that much,” wika ni Foronda sa TomasinoWeb.

“In terms of reaching provinces, far-flung areas and remote areas in the Philippines, we’re looking for partners as well [such as councils and organizations] para ma-reach ‘yun,” dagdag niya.

Bukod sa pagpaalam sa mga mag-aaral ng kanilang mga karapatan, maaring dinggin ang kanilang mga hinaing sa opisyal na Facebook page ng Straw PH at ni Senator Risa Hontiveros.

Si Senador Hontiveros ang nanguna sa pagsampa ng Straw Bill noong 2016. Hanggang ngayon, nakabinbin pa rin ito sa komite. Cielo Erikah Mae Cinco, may mga ulat mula kay Rabin Bote

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