THE University of Santo Tomas is not liable for the death of freshman law student Horacio Castillo III due to hazing, its law dean Nilo Divina said Friday.
“I don’t think UST is liable because the test is ‘Did you measure up to the standards of a good father of a good family?’” Divina said in a television interview.
Divina maintained UST had a “very strict” anti-hazing policy, adding “We have a very strict policy against hazing – so that policy is part of our manual, and then annual orientations are conducted to all students..”Divina said.
In related developments:
* Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the family of Castillo could be placed under the coverage of the government’s Witness Protection Program.
Aguirre made the statement after learning from a relative of the Castillo family that they were worried about their personal safety although he declined to elaborate.
“Anybody who wants to be placed under the WPP will be evaluated and, if they qualify, we will grant it,” Aguirre said in an interview.
“One of their relatives informed us that the victim’s family are [sic] concerned about their safety, but I won’t go into the details,” he said.
• The Manila Police District is planning to file obstruction of justice charges against members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity should police find distorting evidence in the crime scene.
“If we get enough evidence that there was a distortion of piece of evidence inside [the frat library], we are contemplating to file an obstruction of justice charges against those who did this,” spokesperson Supt. Erwin Margarejo said in a mix of English and Filipino during a television interview.
Margarejo’s statement was made after police searched the Aegis Juris fraternity library in Sampaloc, Manila and found drops of blood, three wooden paddles, and candles, but failed to turn up hard drives containing recordings of the CCTV camera installed outside the library.
The hazing of Castillo is believed to have taken place at the frat library.
Aguirre met the Castillo family members on Thursday when the latter requested they be given an audience with President Duterte. Their request was granted and the President will meet them on Oct. 4.
During their meeting, the Justice secretary admitted that the Castillo family had expressed concerns that those involved in the death of Castillo belonged to wealthy and influential families.
“They probably wanted to ask the President to help get justice and not the miscarriage of justice because those behind the crime belong to rich and influential families,” Aguirre said.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice issued a resolution ordering the release of Aegis Juris Fraternity member John Paul Solano and set the conduct of a preliminary investigation against him and other respondents allegedly involved in Castillo’s fatal hazing.
The first preliminary investigation hearing is set on Oct. 4.
Margarejo said the recordings would be “material evidence” that could be a basis for filing criminal charges against members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.
“Well, it’s really very important if we get a CCTV footage in the frat library that documented what really happened to Mr. Horacio Castillo III, considering that he died,” Margarejo said.
“That will be really a material evidence for us that could be used in the case against the members of Aegis Juris fraternity,” he added.
Margarejo said the missing hard drive of the CCTV camera indicated the fraternity was “hiding something”.
“Well, of course there is an indication they are covering up something,” Margarejo said, adding police knew the camera was working.
“Apparently we know it’s [the CCTV] working. Well they’re hiding up something,” he said.
Pending the results of a forensic examination of the evidence gathered from the fraternity’s library, Margarejo said they could not at the moment divulge specific findings, but added it was a “possibility” that the paddles found on site were used for hazing.
“I can just tell you right now that is a possibility, but we still don’t have the results of the processing of Soco, so we cannot give a complete, conclusive statement for that matter,” Margarejo said.
Castillo was laid to rest on Wednesday at the Manila Memorial Park, 10 days after he died from a massive heart attack due to injuries sustained during hazing.
Castillo was a neophyte who underwent “welcoming rites” of the Aegis Juris fraternity on the weekend of Sept. 16-17.
Aegis Juris member and primary suspect John Paul Solano was temporarily freed by police on Thursday, pending further investigation into the criminal charges filed against him for his involvement in Castillo’s death.
Castillo, a 22-year-old law student of UST, died of a massive heart attack as a result of the injuries sustained from hazing.
One of the three wooden paddles found inside the resource center, which is located near the corner of Laon Laan and Navarra streets, had the fraternity’s name carved on it.
Media personnel were prohibited from entering the crime scene.