UST Law Dean: I filed leave from frat since assuming deanship

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UST law freshman Horacio Castillo III (file)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — The dean of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law said he has not participated in any of Aegis Juris Fraternity's activities since he assumed the deanship.

UST Law Dean Nilo Divina, an alumnus of the fraternity, said he filed a leave of absence from the organization eight years ago.

"As Dean of the entire Faculty of Civil Law, I knew that I had to remove any vestige or potential source of negative perceptions of partiality on my part," Divina said. "I can honestly say that I have discharged my functions without fear nor favor as in fact there have been a number of instances when my decisions went against the fraternity and its members."

The Aegis Juris Fraternity is tagged in the death of first year UST law student Horacio Castillo III after an alleged hazing.

Divina also said he implemented a policy to prohibit fraternities from recruiting freshmen.

"I believe that new entrants to the Faculty should focus on their studies and that they will be better informed as what organization they should join once they are in their second year.  That policy was inexplicably defied in the recruitment of Horacio," Divina added.

Castillo, who was found on Sunday in a pavement wrapped in a thick blanket, was declared dead on arrival on the same day at the Chinese General Hospital.

According to police report, Castillo - "Atio" to his family- had hematoma or bruises on both upper arms. He also had several marks of candle wax drips all over his body.

Castillo's parents said their 22-year-old son asked for their permission to join the fraternity, citing the dean as one of its members.

However, Divina said he never authorized the use of his name or photo in the fraternity's recruitment materials.

"Neither was I aware of the existence of any brochure of the fraternity containing my name or photo," he added.

Divina has ordered the preventive suspension of all officers and members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity on Monday to "guard against interference with the investigation in any manner or influence any potential witness."

"I am making it a solemn commitment to personally champion the cause of Atio," Divina said.

UST is conducting its own investigation on the death of Castillo. At the same time, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe on the matter.

The police are currently looking for six persons of interest who may shed light on the incident.