AEGIS Juris Fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura will soon be removed from the list of respondents in the criminal charges arising from the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Sunday.
He said Ventura will no longer be included as a respondent in the charges of murder, hazing and obstruction of justice filed by Castillo’s parents and the Manila Police District against 37 people after he expressed willingness to testify against those who were involved in the hazing that resulted in Castillo’s death.
“Mr. Ventura will be dropped as a respondent. That will be a consequence of his being a state witness,” Aguirre said.
Ventura was admitted to the Justice department’s Witness Protection Program after he went to the department and submitted a six-page affidavit, where he implicated 23 fraternity members involved in the initiation rites for Castillo on Sept.17.
Aguirre said he found Ventura a credible witness after reviewing his eligibility for the WPP.
“For you to be qualified under WPP, you should not appear to be the most guilty, and he is not the most guilty upon our assessment,” Aguirre said.
“We saw that it was very voluntary in his part to testify. He said he was ready to face the consequences of his decision with respect to his membership in the fraternity. He’s willing to be expelled.”
Aguirre said since Ventura was the lone witness, his testimony was necessary to successfully prosecute the people liable for Castillo’s death.
“We don’t know if there will be more witnesses, but even if we only have him, his testimony is already strong enough,” Aguirre said.
In his affidavit, Ventura said the 23 members of the fraternity were all present during Castillo’s initiation held in the school library before dawn on Sept. 17.
Ventura gave nine new names: Edric Pilapil, Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Kapulong, Kim Cyrill Roque and Ged Villanueva.
He also confirmed the participation of fraternity president Arvin Balag, master initiator Axel Munro Hipe and 12 other members already charged before the Justice department: Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Daniel Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Matthew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat, Leo Lalusis, Alex Bose and Robin Ramos.
Ventura also claimed that a female companion of Bose was present in the library during the initiation rites.
He said the initiation rites started at 1 a.m. with a prayer, and that those present required Castillo to do some stretching before proceeding with the rites.
He then said the fraternity members started the hazing by punching Castillo’s arms. They used spatulas in tapping Castillo’s arms to reduce the swelling and calm the muscles before hitting him with paddles.
After the third hit, the initiators asked Castillo if he could still endure the process, and to which he answered yes.
However, after the fourth hit the neophyte collapsed around 5 a.m.
Ventura then said they decided to summon another member with a medical background, John Paul Solano, to help revive Castillo.
They then carried Castillo to a pickup and set to bring him to a nearby hospital until Solano came and they decided to bring the neophyte back to the library to see if their member would be able to revive him.
When Solano failed to revive Castillo, they decided to bring him to the Chinese General Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.