Solano: I was not alone when Atio was brought to hospital

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Senators grilled University of Santo Tomas (UST) Law Dean Nilo Divina as well as hazing suspect John Paul Solano on the death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

They asked Solano a number of times about his participation in the case.

Solano, a member of Aegis Juris fraternity that carried out the initiation rites, was called twice on the morning of Sept. 17 by other fraternity members to check on the condition of Castillo. The law student was unconscious supposedly after going through hazing.

He said he first received a call at around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, but was not told what happened. At around 7:10 a.m., Solano said he received a second call saying someone collapsed.

Senator Bam Aquino asked Solano if the person who called him indicated if it was Atio.

He replied, "They told me someone collapsed. I thought it was something else."

 

Solano admitted suggesting Castillo's transfer to the hospital after noting the victim was no longer breathing.

 

Solano said he followed a red Mitsubushi Strada and a black Toyota Fortuner as Atio was transported to the hospital. He said he was on his motorcycle.

Solano also said he was told to lie on how he happened to see Castillo.

But as to who called him, who accompanied him to Chinese General Hospital, and who asked him to mislead authorities on their initial investigation – Solano said he would identify them in his sworn statement.

Solano insisted he had nothing to do with the initiation ceremonies that led to Castillo's death. But he refused to disclose who among the Aegis Juris officers and members sought his help.

Solano said he was willing to tell all about Castillo's death, but he withheld information until he is able to submit a counter affidavit. He decided to do so after he learned that charges would be filed against him

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is leading the investigation as chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said it is possible to grant Solano legislative immunity so that his testimony will not be used against him.

Paterno Esmaquel, Solano's legal counsel, said they would study that option.

Solano is facing charges of violating the Anti-Hazing Law, murder, and robbery.

Meanwhile, Divina said he is no longer an active member of Aegis Juris. He joined the fraternity in 1986.

Senators told Divina a number of witnesses, including fraternity members, expressed fear of coming forward and speaking out supposedly because of the law dean's influence.

Divina denied this, saying he suspended and took other sanctions against Aegis Juris members.

The parents of Castillo, Horacio Jr. and Carmina were also present at the hearing.

The elder Castillo turned emotional as he read a statement calling on the Senate to dig deeper into their son's death, bring him justice, and to prevent a repeat of such incidents.