Police release suspect in hazing victim's death

Story updated to include statements of John Paul Solano and UST law Dean Nilo Divina.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — The Manila Police District (MPD) released John Paul Solano, a principal suspect in the death of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III, on Thursday.

Solano, a University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student on leave of absence who has been detained by the MPD since last Friday,  was released after police received the Department of Justice's (DOJ) supplemental release order for Solano's obstruction of justice case.

"I would like to thank MPD na nagtiyaga sila sa akin kahit medyo na-stress sila," he said after his release. "Also, I would like to extend my deepest condolences sa parents ni Atio. And also, rest assured, I will shed light sa story pagdating ng preliminary investigation. I will prove my innocence for telling the truth."

[Translation: I would like to thank the MPD for being persistent with me even though they got stressed. Also, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Atio's parents. And also, rest assured, I will shed light on the story at the preliminary investigation. I will prove my innocence for telling the truth.]

Solano also said he has no plans to talk to the other members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, which conducted the hazing rites on Castillo, adding that he is not afraid of any backlash from the members.

 

"Sila nang bahala kung anong gusto (nilang gawin)," he said. "As I said po noong nakaraan, I still believe na hindi sila ganun ka-savage or barbaric."

[Translation: It's up to them to do what they want. As I said in the past, I still believe that they are not that savage or barbaric.]

Earlier on Thursday, UST law Dean Nilo Divina told CNN Philippines that he plans to resign from the Aegis Juris Fraternity, which he was a member of until he took a leave of absence from the group eight years ago.

"It's a very difficult position because despite my good intentions, despite the fact that my actions have been very objective, impartial, people still think otherwise," Divina said.

Delayed release

The DOJ ordered Solano's release on Wednesday because he surrendered to authorities.

Read: DOJ orders release of main suspect in hazing death of neophyte

However, the MPD said early Thursday morning that the order did not cover Solano's obstruction of justice complaint.

Read: Police: Suspect in hazing death of law student can't be released yet

Aside from obstruction of justice, the MPD filed on Monday cases of perjury, murder, robbery, and violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law against Solano.

Despite his release, Solano and other respondents still face criminal charges as they are scheduled to undergo preliminary investigation on October 4 and 9.

Under the Rules of Court, a preliminary investigation is a proceeding where prosecutors will determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to file cases against the accused in court.

Solano's involvement

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 stated that he succumbed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or thickening of the heart muscle. He was laid to rest on September 27.

Read: Hazing victim Horacio Castillo III laid to rest

Solano said on September 22 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

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.

Related: At least 18 frat-related deaths despite a 22-year-old anti-hazing law

His death has also prompted Congress to give more teeth to the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law.

Related: House bill seeks to ban hazing