ONE of the suspects in the hazing death of UST law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo returned to the Philippines on Tuesday after weeks of staying in the United States and following a police search for him.
Aegis Juris member Ralph Trangia arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 11:40 a.m. on board EVA Air flight from the United States through Taipei in a connecting flight.
In other developments:
• University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina on Tuesday shrugged off the inclusion of his name in the criminal complaint filed before the Justice Department in connection with the hazing conducted by Aegis Juris Fraternity members that resulted in the death of 22-year-old freshman law student Castillo.
“I am sure it is baseless since I have not breached any law and have always discharged my functions as dean with utmost diligence,’’ Divina said.
• Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Tuesday ordered the Manila Police District to go after the 35 suspects in the death of Castillo.
He tasked the police to hunt down the suspects to ensure justice was served to Castillo’s family.
“If there’s evidence, arrest them,” Estrada said after being briefed by MPD Chief Joel Coronel on the investigation of the case.
“Let them face the court and answer the charges.”
Trangia arrived with his mother Rosemarie who was with him in Chicago. They were welcomed by airport security personnel and men from the Manila Police District.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office earlier said Trangia flew to Chicago through Taiwan on a transit flight from Manila on Sept. 19.
Red Mariñas, head of the Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division, earlier told ABS-CBN News that the Interpol office in the US relayed to their office details of Trangia’s return to Manila.
He said Trangia opted for a voluntary return after the government reportedly planned to revoke his passport after he was tagged in Castillo’s death.
In a statement, the Justice Department said Trangia’s return was a welcome development in the case. It said it would assess if Trangia could be a potential witness.
“While he may be a suspect as of the moment, he could be a potential witness,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said.
“And for this reason, the DoJ offers to him and to his family the protection of our Witness Protection Program.”
Trangia, a UST student, along with several other suspects, are facing charges of murder, robbery and violation of the anti-hazing law.
An autopsy report from the Manila Police District concluded that Atio died of a heart attack due to massive injuries from hazing.
Castillo, who was described by his relatives as a humble kid with big dreams, was buried on Sept. 27.
Also facing charges in connection with Atio’s death are Divina and the trustees of the Aegis Juris Foundation.
Divina, an Aegis Juris fratman “on leave,” told a Senate inquiry that he had already talked to the Atio’s parents and vowed to help them find justice.
Part-time medical technologist John Paul Solano, another primary suspect and also an Aegis Juris member, was released after being detained for seven days.
Solano denied his participation in the hazing. He said he rushed Castillo to the hospital Sunday morning after being called by fraternity brothers to give the neophyte first aid.