UST law student who found alleged hazing victim a 'person of interest' in slay case

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — The police are looking for six "persons of interest" in the suspected hazing death of 22-year-old University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student, Horacio Castillo III.

Among these is John Paul Solano, Castillo's fellow Thomasian who claimed to have found the freshman's body Sunday morning in Tondo, Manila where it seemed to have been dumped.

The Manila Police District (MPD), which is investigating the case, has declined to reveal who the other possible suspects are but said they are looking at the Aegis Juris Fraternity head and two recruiters.

Authorities on Tuesday said no one from Aegis Juris has surfaced to cooperate in the police investigation. Castillo's father earlier said his son asked permission on Saturday to stay overnight at the UST campus for the welcome rites of the law school-based fraternity.

Solano, also a UST law student, earlier told police he found Castillo at the corner of H. Lopez Boulevard and Infanta Street in Tondo and flagged down a vehicle to help him bring the victim to the Chinese General Hospital.

But officials of Barangay 133 said there was no body in the area mentioned. 

MPD  Spokesperson Superintendent Erwin Margarejo noted the inconsistencies between Solano's sworn statement and that of barangay officials.

"Nagisyu na po ng certification yung barangay disputing the initial statement of John Paul Solano," he said.

[Translation: The barangay has issued a certification disputing the initial statement of John Paul Solano.]

The police are calling on Solano to clarify the matter or they would  file perjury charges against him.

"Sa ngayon nakikipagcoordinate tayo sa school authorities ng UST para makakuha tayo ng list of members of the fraternity group na enrolled," the spokesperson said.

[Translation: Now we are coordinating with the UST authorities so we can get a list of the enrolled members of the fraternity.]

The police are also looking at the fraternity library of Aegis Juris,  where the hazing could have happened. Authorities cannot inspect the area without a search warrant, but they are hoping the fraternity would be willing to open the locked library doors to help speed up the investigation.

Margarejo doubts the fraternity is willing to cooperate with the police, despite its earlier promise to help.  He said the preventive suspension on Aegis members ordered by UST law Dean Nilo Divina will actually make their work harder.

"If they are suspended to enter the UST premises, sinong iimbestigahan natin? Kaya hindi makakatulong (ang preventive suspension)," he noted.

[Translation: If they are barred from entering UST premises, who will we investigate. It will not help.]

In a statement to CNN Philippines, Divina said they have released the names and addresses of Aegis members to UST officials.

"It is not true. We have released the names and addresses of the officers and members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity based on their filings with UST," the dean said.

Margarejo invited the other neophytes who were with Castillo the night he died to appear before the police, assuring them they have nothing to worry about if they are not involved in the victim's death.


Family mourns

The Castillo family is asking for time and space to mourn as the wake for Atio, as he is fondly called, is held at the Sanctuario de San Antonio in Makati.

The young man's father, Horacio Castillo Jr, said Atio's 86-year-old grandmother is still unaware of the fate of her favorite grandson. He said Atio had asked his grandmother, who is undergoing dialysis, to hang tight and wait for him to finish law school.

The Castillo family is calling for justice. They said Atio had many hopes and dreams but he was killed by criminals from a fraternity who should have been his brothers.

They are pleading with the UST administration to conduct an impartial and swift investigation into the case.  They are also hoping Divina would stand up for Atio despite his affiliation with his own fraternity.

The National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Human Rights are conducting also independent probes into the death of Atio.

CNN Philippines' Triciah Terada contributed to this report.