Senate panel slams UST officials for negligence, incompetence in hazing case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — Senators on Monday zeroed in on the culpability of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on the hazing death of Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

During the third Senate hearing on Atio's death, senators accused UST officials of negligence and incompetence, saying the hazing death could have been avoided if only clear-cut rules for fraternities and hazing are in place.

Senator Grace Poe said UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina has a lot of explaining to do why the Aegis Juris Fraternity was able to recruit members in August, when the school has yet to approve the organization's recognition at the time.

"Did you send any correspondence or letter informing the Student Council or Student Affairs Office that Aegis Juris is indeed suspended and they should not be allowed to participate in any student activities?" Poe asked Divina.

Divina replied, "It is not the Office of the Dean that determines recognized organizations but the Office of Student Affairs so they would know the organizations that are not organized."

Director of the Office of Student Affairs Ma. Socorro Guan Hing, however, said before any student activity could be allowed, organizations must secure the recommendation of certain offices, including the office of Divina.

Jonathan Santos, the president of the Student Council of Civil Law, confirmed this, saying: "The proposals (for notices for orientations) are submitted first to the dean for approval."

UST officials who attended the hearing said the school's probe on the hazing incident is still ongoing.

The Senate showed a photo of a man at the lobby of the Pacific Star building in Makati, where the Divina Law Office is located.

Atio's parents identified the man to be their son. Divina had earlier denied meeting the student before the rites took place.

Poe added the Pacific Star building is owned by Century Properties, whose corporate secretary is a senior partner at Divina Law. She also revealed Century Properties owns Novotel Manila hotel in Cubao, Quezon City.

Novotel hotel was where Aegis Juris frat men, including some elders, met in the afternoon of September 17, the day Atio died.