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Witness links 23 to hazing

UST law dean, 64 others in ‘persons of interest’ list

THE Aegis Juris member who turned state witness has implicated 23 fraternity brothers in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III.

In a six-page affidavit submitted to the Justice Department, Marc Anthony Ventura said the 23 members of their fraternity were all present during Castillo’s initiation rites held in their library on Sept. 17.

Ventura, a member of the fraternity who participated in the hazing and who is now admitted to the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program, identified nine new individuals: Edric Pilapil, Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Kapulong, Kim Cyrill Roque and Ged Villanueva.

Ventura also confirmed the participation of their 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.

He also recalled a female companion of Bose was present in the library during the initiation rites.

Ventura said the initiation rites started at 1 a.m. with a prayer so that nothing untoward would happen during the hazing.

Marc Anthony Ventura
He said they required Castillo to do some stretching before proceeding with the rites. Frat members then started the hazing by punching Castillo’s arms.

He said they then used spatulas to tap 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, to which he answered yes, the affidavit said.

However, after the fourth hit, the neophyte collapsed at about 5 a.m.

Ventura said they then decided to summon another member who had a medical background, John Paul Solano, to help revive Castillo, who still had pulse at that time.

Ventura said they had already carried Castillo to a pickup and were set to bring him to a nearby hospital when Solano came and they decided to bring the neophyte back to the library to see if he would be able to revive him.

When Solano failed to revive Castillo, they decided to bring him to the Chinese General Hospital where the neophyte was declared dead on arrival.

Ventura is among the 37 respondents facing charges for murder, robbery, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, perjury and obstruction of justice.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that because of his coverage in the WPP, Ventura will eventually be dropped as one of the respondents in the complaints filed by the Manila Police District and Castillo’s parents.

The Justice Department has put 65 “persons of interest”— including UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina and 13 other lawyers—under an immigration lookout bulletin order in connection with Castillo’s hazing death.

Last month, Aguirre issued a similar order but only for 16 members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.

On Thursday, Aguirre signed a supplemental ILBO against 49 individuals, including Divina, who are deemed as “persons of interest” in the Castillo hazing case.

The new names were added after Ventura expressed his readiness to testify against his fraternity brothers.

Among the new names on the lookout bulletin were fraternity members who gathered at the Novotel Hotel in Quezon City to discuss what they would do to avoid prosecution.

“Considering the gravity of the offense allegedly committed, there is a strong possibility that the following individuals may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes by leaving the country,” Aguirre said in his order to the Bureau of Immigration.

“In order not to derail the ongoing investigation, we thus deem the issuance of an ILBO against the subject individuals prudent in order to, at least, monitor the itineraries of their flight, travel, and/or whereabouts,” Aguirre said.

Persons on the lookout bulletin may not leave the country without Justice Department approval.

Aguirre said Ventura’s testimony was sufficient to pin down the respondents.

A Manila regional trial court judge, meanwhile, declined to recuse himself from the hazing case, after Solano asked that he do so because he gave the police and private complainants “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference” when he granted a search warrant for the Aegis Juris fraternity library where the hazing took place.

Manila RTC Branch 53 Judge Reynaldo Alhambra, however, junked Solano’s motion questioning the validity of the warrants he issued.

In his affidavit, Ventura said it was the driver of Aegis Juris president Balag, and not fraternity member Ralph Trangia, who took Castillo to the hospital.

Aguirre said the National Bureau of Investigation was looking for the driver.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri welcomed Ventura’s revelations, saying it was one step closer to obtaining justice for the Castillo family.

“The pang of conscience is the thin line that separates men from beasts. Young Marc [Ventura] gives me hope because his young conscience made him tell the truth and free himself from the sinister code of silence to cover up the crime within the walls of the Aegis Juris den called the library,” said Zubiri.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Solano blew his chance of becoming a state witness in the case.

“With the tell-all tale of Marc Anthony Ventura… John Paul Solano blew all his chances to become a state witness as he would have been the most probable Aegis Juris member to qualify as such,” Lacson said.

Lacson is the chairman of the Senate public order committee, which is conducting a probe of Castillo’s death.

Lacson’s committee earlier disclosed the names of the Aegis Juris members Solano claimed he saw in the fraternity library. One of the six names Solano mentioned in the executive session was Ventura. With Vito Barcelo, Bill Casas and Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: Marc Anthony Ventura , Aegis Juris fraternity , Fraternity brothers , Hazing , Horacio Castillo III , Justice Department , Arvin Balag , Axel Munro Hipe
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