UST law professors express support for Dean Nilo Divina

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — Professors at the University Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law have expressed their support for their dean over the hazing case.

Dean Nilo Divina faces charges of murder and obstruction of justice, as filed in the supplemental complaint of the parents of hazing victim and UST law student Horacio 'Atio' Castillo III.

READ: Castillo family wants more names included in suspect list as DOJ begins hearing Atio's case

"We firmly believe that he has acted with utmost circumspection, propriety, and impartiality as Dean. We have personally witnessed how he has been fair and just to all students, regardless of their affiliation," they said in a statement released Saturday.

Police suspect 22-year-old Castillo died after undergoing hazing by members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity (AJF) on September 16.

Divina is an alumnus of the fraternity, but claimed to have filed a leave of absence eight years ago, when he assumed deanship.

The 35 law professors, which included five court Justices and seven judges, stood by Divina's actions in implementing university policies.

"We know for a fact that he has not hesitated to take action against any student, including members of fraternities, for various infractions or non-compliance with academic requirements," the statement read. "We lament the efforts to implicate him in the recent hazing incident involving Aegis and are confident that he will be vindicated."

On September 22, Divina facilitated the surrender of John Paul Solano, one of the principal suspects in the case, to Senator Ping Lacson. Divina said his father and Solano's father are close friends.

At the Senate hearing on Wednesday, Divina revealed Aegis Juris was not accredited to operate on campus in 2017 due to a previous case against them in 2016 concerning an altercation.

The dean added that AJF President Arvin Balag, a main suspect, had actually been debarred or removed from law school for failing some subjects.

He also said he was notified by the faculty secretary of Castillo's death 15 minutes after he attended noon mass on September 17. Atio's mother, Carmina Castillo, said she only knew of her son's fate on September 18.

Faculty secretary Arthur Capili is also a respondent in the supplemental complaint filed by Castillo's parents.

The MPD had also presented screengrabs of a Facebook conversation, revealing attempts by AJF members to conceal the circumstances around Castillo's death.

READ: Police: Aegis Juris attempted to 'cover up, conceal' UST law student's death

In an official statement on Friday, the UST said it had done its part in looking into Castillo's death, shooting down what it claims to be "inaccurate portrayal" of the university as indifferent to the case.

READ: UST stresses commitment to Atio Castillo hazing case