DOJ orders release of main suspect in hazing death of neophyte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered on Wednesday the release of a principal suspect in the death of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III.

Read: Timeline: The case of Horacio Castillo III

John Paul Solano, a University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student who has been held in detention by the Manila Police District (MPD) since September 22, was ordered released by the Justice Department.

The announcement came as Castillo's funeral was underway in Paranaque.

Paterno Esmaquel, Solano's lawyer, told CNN Philippines' Newsroom, that as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, they have yet to receive a copy of the resolution, adding he only heard about the release on the radio.

Esmaquel also filed an omnibus motion questioning the detention of Solano. However, he said they will not take legal action against the police.

"We understand yung kanilang trabaho. Sinabi ko naman sa kanila na as long as treated fairly and safely si Mr. Solano doon, I will not take action doon," Esmaquel said.

[Translation: We understand their job. I also told them I won't take action regarding the detention as long as Solano is treated fairly and safely.]

The preliminary investigation in Atio's case is scheduled on October 4 and 9. Esmaquel said Solano will submit his counter affidavit on the day of the investigation.

"If it is true, clearly, kasi hindi ko pa nareceive yung resolution, na it's Oct. 4, definitely, on Oct. 4, magssubmit ng counter affidavit niya si Mr. Solano, with all the other supporting documents and evidences to show that the time na he was at the house, in their clinic. Marami kaming ebidensya to that effect," Esmaquel said.

[Translation: I have yet to receive a copy of the resolution but if it is true that it's on October 4, definitely, on October 4, Solano will submit his counter affidavit, with all the other supporting documents and evidences to show that during that time, he was at the house, in their clinic. We have evidences to that effect.]

The MPD had filed during inquest proceedings on September 25 cases of perjury, murder, robbery, obstruction of justice and violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law against Solano.

Read: Police file murder, perjury cases vs. Solano

Solano's lawyer, Paterno Esmaquel, objected to the inquest, saying it only applies to warrantless arrests, not to suspects who surrender.

Solano, a member of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, turned himself in to authorities on September 22 after police had named him and two others -- UST law student Ralph Trangia and his father Antonio -- as principal suspects in Castillo's death on September 17.

Read: Suspect in UST student's hazing surrenders

Read: Police name 3 principal suspects in UST hazing death; manhunt ongoing

Solano said after his surrender that he was not present at Castillo's hazing and that he was only called to help resuscitate the victim.

Read: Solano: I wasn't at Horacio Castillo's hazing

"My involvement was to give medical assistance because they were in chaos that time," he said. "I am a medical health provider, so they would call me. More or less, he's half-dead. I did give CPR and then, when I can't do anything else, I brought him to the hospital."

Solano named six more fraternity members involved in the hazing incident, Senator Migz Zubiri said Tuesday.

Related: Senator: Prime suspect in UST hazing death Solano names six frat members involved

MPD Spokesperson Erwin Margarejo earlier this week called on the suspects to surrender as soon as possible, and they assured safety in their custody.

"Definitely there (are) already… formal charges, they know their rights, may mga karapatan silang, alam naman nila 'yon and, they can ask the advice of a legal counsel," Margarejo said.

The MPD added four suspects have already sent surrender feelers.

Castillo, a 22-year-old UST law freshman, was declared dead on September  17 at the Chinese General Hospital after he allegedly took part in hazing rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity.

Read: UST law student dead after alleged hazing

The initial autopsy report stating he succumbed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or thickening of the heart muscle.

Castillo's death has elicited widespread sympathy for the family and incited anger among the public over violent initiation rites known as "hazing" which is observed in fraternities. His death has also prompted Congress to give more teeth to the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law.