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DOJ reopens investigation on Atio’s hazing case

The Department of Justice reopened the investigation on the death of freshman law student Horacio Castillo III after the witness Marc Anthony Ventura submitted his affidavit.

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Photo grabbed from Horacio Castillo III's Facebook account.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors reopened the preliminary investigation on the death of hazing victim and UST freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III after suspect-turned-state witness Marc Anthony Ventura submitted his affidavit. 

The panel received Ventura’s affidavit last Jan. 3 and was not taken into consideration in the preliminary investigations of the case. The affidavit contained the names of Aegis Juris Fraternity members who executed the hazing rites on Castillo.

“In the interest of justice and in observance of due process, the Panel hereby motu propio reopens the preliminary investigation of these complaints in order to give them the opportunity to submit their countervailing evidence,” the order issued by the panel said.

Fratman John Paul Solano submitted an affidavit stating that the death of Atio was not due to hazing but instead of a pre-existing heart condition.

Ventura is the only fraternity member who has admitted participation in the hazing rites which Atio’s mother, Carmina, considers as a “breakthrough.”  

“As I understand they are already accepting the testimony of Ventura as part of the evidence, strengthening our case against the many respondents in our anti-hazing complaints,” Carmina said.

She added,“This breakthrough can definitely speed up the case when filed in the proper courts. They cannot deny the fact that a crime was committed and there is a vital witness to the crime.”

Carmina attended the hearing yesterday, Jan. 12.

Revelations

In his affidavit, Ventura said that he only participated in the rites when they were thumping Atio’s arm with a spatula to ease the swelling.

Ventura then revealed the members who hit Atio. They were Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Kapulong, Edric Pilapil, and one unidentified member, who he couldn’t remember because the lights were turned off during that time.

In addition, Ventura said that the spatula round was composed of the same people with the addition of Miguel Salamat, Robin Ramos, Mhin Wei Chan, Oliver Onofre, Marcelino Bagtang, Hans Rodrigo, Ralph Trangia, Joriel Macabali, Grand Praefectus Arvin Balag, and Master Initiator Axel Hipe, and with the exemption of Kapulong.

The paddling, or the final stage of the hazing rites, was done by Hipe, Trangia, Balag, and an unidentified member whom Ventura cannot recall. According to Ventura, Atio went down on his knees after the third hit.

Atio was given time to rest before being hit by the unidentified member and Balag. Yet he already collapsed but was still making sounds as he was unable to speak.

Ventura said that Balag was the one who was giving orders, including the decision not to immediately bring Atio to the hospital.

Atio was already loaded inside Trangia’s truck, but he was taken back to the fraternity library where the medical technologist Solano tried to revive him.

After his testimonies, Ventura has been admitted to the Witness Protection Program run by the DOJ.

by Heather Marian Amoroso

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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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Magulang ni Atio nagagalak, nagagalit sa pagdinig ng kaso

Magkahalong galak at galit ang naramdaman ng mga magulang ng nasawing miyembro ng Aegis Juris Fraternity na si Horacio Castillo III sa unang araw ng pagdinig ng kaso sa Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, ika-14 ng Agosto.

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Kuha ni Angelika Ortega/TomasinoWeb

Magkahalong galak at galit ang naramdaman ng mga magulang ng nasawing miyembro ng Aegis Juris Fraternity na si Horacio “Atio” Castillo III sa unang araw ng pagdinig ng kaso sa Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

Ayon kay Carmina Castillo, ang ina ng napaslang na UST Civil Law freshman, lubos na nagpapasalamat ang kanilang pamilya nang humarap upang tumestigo si Marc Ventura laban sa iba pang mga kapwa-miyembrong akusado.

“We commend Marc na nagawa niya ‘yun para makamit natin ‘yung katotohanan at justice. We are very happy na he testified and he’s committed na sabihin kung ano yung totoo at ‘yung nangyari para hindi maulit ito,” hayag niya.

Dagdag naman ni Horacio Castillo Jr., ang ama ng 22-anyos na pinaslang umano sa hazing rites, “talagang malaking bagay ang paglabas ni Marc sa pagkakakilanlan ng mga may sala.”

“He felt sorry for the accused pero sabi niya ‘I have to do the right thing,’” pag-ulit ni Castillo Jr. sa salaysay ni Ventura 

Subalit, masakit pa rin para sa ina ni Atio ang sinapit nito kahit isang taon na ang nakalilipas.

“Masakit pa rin siya (ang mga testimonya) pag naririnig mo,” ani Carmina.

“Any moment gusto mo sila sakalin, murahin at sabihin: ‘Bakit hindi niyo dinala sa ospital? Eh ‘di sana hindi tayo nagkakasuhan, eh ‘di sana buhay pa yung anak ko,’” dagdag pa niya.

‘Already in tears’

Emosyonal nang humarap bilang testigo sa unang pagkakataon si Ventura, hayag ni Carmina.

“He was emotional to testify. Mahirap sa kanya kasi sabi niya pamilya na nga niya ‘brods’ niya but he has to tell the truth.” paliwanag pa niya.

“He was already in tears.”

Tikom naman ang bibig ng mga akusado, ayon kay Castillo Jr. sa isang pahayag sa TomasinoWeb.

“Well, the accused were there, they were quiet. They denied everything actually ang nagdeny naman eh yung lawyers eh pero the accused remained silent,” sabi ng ama.

Dumalo naman sa pagdinig ang lahat ng miyembrong sangkot na sila 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 at Robin Ramos.

Noong Hulyo 24, umapela naman ng “not guilty” sa korte ang lahat ng sampung sangkot sa kaso sa kinakaharap nitong paglabag sa Anti-Hazing Act of 1995.

Sa isang resolusyong pinetsahan noong Hulyo 5, ibinasura ng Kagawaran ng Hustisya (DOJ) ang petisyon ng pamilya Castillo na muling panagutin si UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.

Ayon pa sa DOJ, huli na nang makapaghabla ng petisyon ang mga Castillo laban kay Divina dahil 15 araw lamang matapos makapagbigay ng resibo. Mga ulat mula kay Angelika Ortega at Noemi Ann Perez

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