JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said the family of hazing death victim University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III would meet President Rodrigo Duterte next week.
“They asked me to help them get an audience with PRRD, which was granted. They will see the President on Wednesday,” Aguirre said.
This came after Castillo’s family met with Aguirre a day after the Department of Justice prosecutors ordered the release of Aegis Juris Fraternity member John Paul Solano, one of the suspects criminally charged for Castillo’s death.
In related developments:
• On Thursday, Solano was released from detention by the Manila Police District.
This came after the Department of Justice issued Wednesday afternoon a resolution ordering the release of Solano over invalid arrest and inquest proceedings by the police.
However, the MPD homicide division headed by Sr. Insp. Rommel Anicete did not immediately implement the release order because it did not include the charge for obstruction of justice in the list of criminal charges against the suspect.
• Some 11 days after Castillo III died due to a fraternity hazing, the Manila Police District has gained access to the scene where the hazing rites took place.
Scene of the Crime Operation operatives from the Manila Police District entered the Aegis Juris Law Resources Center shortly before noon to gather evidence from the fraternity library in Manila.
The MPD had earlier failed to immediately enter the premises because it did not have yet a court-issued search warrant.
Police considered the frat library the crime scene based on CCTV footage from nearby establishments taken between Sept. 16 and the early hours of Sept. 17, the time Castillo was thought to have died.
The frat library itself has its own CCTV cameras.
However, police have yet to gain access to its contents.
Horacio II and his wife Carmina met with the Justice Secretary and sought help from the government to ensure that those liable for their son’s death from hazing by Aegis Juris fraternity would be brought to justice.
“We assured them that our prosecutors will be doing their best to resolve the case expeditiously. We can expect speedy hearings,” Aguirre said in a chance interview.
According to him, the couple also sought an audience with Duterte, which Aguirre was able to arrange and set for Wednesday next week.
“They know that the people behind [their son’s death] are moneyed and influential so they want to meet the President to allay their fear of possible miscarriage of justice,” Aguirre revealed.
Aguirre said the Castillos were not a rich family, adding the education of the slain law student was being supported by an uncle-doctor.
He also revealed that one of their relatives had already received threats, but did not give details.
Horacio’s parents thanked him for speedy action on the case through issuance of the lookout bulletin order against the suspects just a few days after the incident.
The DoJ ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a probe and do a case build-up on how Castillo died and who were responsible.
Castillo sustained fatal injuries that caused his death after undergoing initial rites to become part of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.
The DoJ also issued a lookout bulletin order against 20 suspects to prevent them from leaving the country.
The resolution only stated charges of murder, violations of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-hazing law, perjury and robbery, which prompted MPD officials to keep Solano in detention while awaiting an amended resolution Thursday morning.
The DoJ did not issue such amended resolution, but nonetheless instructed the police to release the suspect already.
Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, head of the task force in charge of the case, coordinated with the MPD and explained there was no need for an amended release order.
“There was no need to include the obstruction of justice charge in the resolution because it was not yet resolved just like the other charges,” Fadullon stressed.
“Also, while obstruction of justice was included in the police’s complaint, they also did not include documents or any detail to explain the said charge,” the senior prosecutor stressed.
Because of this, the police authorities allowed the release of Solano at 1 p.m.
The DoJ reiterated that while Solano was released from detention, it did not mean that he was already off the hook in the criminal charges filed against him and 17 other individuals—mostly members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.
Fadullon said the respondents would have to answer the charges in preliminary investigation to be conducted by a panel led by Asst. State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva.
The hearings were set for Oct. 4 and 9.
Solano was brought to the DoJ last Monday for inquest proceedings after he surrendered to the MPD last Sept. 22.
But the DoJ has found that his arrest was invalid because he voluntarily surrendered to the police.
It also stressed he could not be subject of inquest proceedings, which only applied to those arrested in warrantless arrest.
Another primary suspect who reportedly fled to Chicago a couple of days after the incident, Ralph Trangia, was also slapped with the same set of charges of murder, violations of Republic Act 8049, perjury, obstruction of justice and robbery.
Fifteen other respondents were also listed in the charge sheet for the same charges—Trangia’s father Antonio, Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Mathew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.
Trangia’s mother Rosemarie was also included in the complaint for obstruction of justice. She accompanied her son to the US.
On the other hand, a member of the Aegis Juris Fraternity charged in the death of Castillo showed up at MPD headquarters on Wednesday to deny his involvement in the crime.
Jason Adolfo Robiños, fifth year law student, went to the MPD past 5 p.m. Wednesday with his lawyer to assure his cooperation in the investigation.
Robiños denied any participation in the Sept. 17 initiation rites that took Castillo’s life.
He said he was in his dormitory when the incident happened.
Robiños also could not pinpoint members possibly involved in the hazing rites.
“I cannot pinpoint (because I was not there). I have no knowledge of everything,” he said.
He said he had been inactive in the fraternity since last year.
Robiños and at least 15 others are facing charges of murder, robbery and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law before the Department of Justice.
Castillo, 22, was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon at the Manila Memorial Park.
Before the burial, a Mass was held and attended by Castillo’s family and friends at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish.
The victim’s family learned about the hazing death incident when his mother, Carmina, received an anonymous text message saying her son had been brought to the Chinese General Hospital.
The Senate on Monday started the hearing on Castillo’s death where senators grilled principal suspect Solano for information regarding Aegis Juris members who were present during the hazing rites. With Bill Casas