UST Law Dean Divina files third libel case vs. Lorna Kapunan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina on Wednesday filed a third libel case against lawyer Lorna Kapunan over her claims he is liable for the death of hazing victim Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

Divina is asking for ₱60 million in damages from the lawyer, who is legal counsel for the Castillo family as well as Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista's estranged wife, Patricia.

This is his third libel complaint against Kapunan. In his complaint, he cited Kapunan's October 8 interview with UST student paper The Varsitarian, where she said under the law, the university, college head, and head of the organization involved are liable for the death of a hazing victim and must be investigated.

He said Kapunan's quote telling him not to be an "obstructionist" to justice conveyed he had violated the Anti-Hazing Law because he supposedly had knowledge of the activity and failed to prevent it or "come forward."

"The respondent's malicious imputation of a crime of violating the Anti-Hazing Law or of committing obstruction of justice is evident," Divina said.

Divina is an alumnus of the Aegis Juris fraternity, but filed a leave of absence from the organization when he became dean eight years ago. Speaking to CNN Philippines in September, he said he is considering resigning from the fraternity following Castillo's death.

READ: UST Law Dean mulls resigning from Aegis Juris

He said Kapunan's statements implied dishonesty on his part, as it made it look like his repeated statements that he had no knowledge of Atio's hazing were lies.

Divina also filed a separate ₱60 million libel complaint against Atty. Lino P. Kapunan, who is also a member of the Castillo's legal team.

The complaint was filed over what he called the lawyer's "blatantly false claim" against his statements he did not know Castillo and had no knowledge neophytes were recruited in the fraternity.

Lino Kapunan had earlier claimed records showed Castillo visited Divina Law to pay respect to his senior fraternity men. He said this implied Divina and other members of the law firm were aware Castillo was a neophyte.

READ: Castillo family names UST Law Dean among new respondents in Atio's case

In his complaint, Divina said such a statement was meant to convey he was a "liar" because it implied he knew Castillo was a neophyte despite his repeated assertions otherwise.

Both Lino and Lorna Kapunan have yet to release a statement on the cases filed by Divina against them.

Earlier, Divina had also filed two other libel cases amounting to ₱120 million against Lorna Kapunan.

The complaints were for making public the disbarment case Patricia Bautista had filed against him and 20 other lawyers in his firm, and for earlier statements Lorna Kapunan had made linking Divina to Castillo's death.