Hazing suspect questions PNP's medico-legal findings

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John Paul Solano (left) is a principal suspect in the death of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 16) — A primary suspect in the hazing death of Horacio "Atio" Castillo III is challenging the Philippine National Police's (PNP) medico-legal report on the law student's death, and called on the Justice Department not to accept the findings.

In a 22-page affidavit filed at the Departent of Justice (DOJ) Thursday, John Paul Solano said Castillo's death was not due to hazing or severe blunt traumatic injuries, but rather hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a condition in which a portion of the heart becomes thickened.

Solano said, the findings of Medico-Legal Report No. H17-042, which was signed and prepared by Police Superintendent Joseph C. Palmero, were disproved by Medico-Legal Expert Dr. Rodel V. Capule in his expert opinion affidavit executed on November 15.

Capule's affidavit stated Palmero's report did not replace an earlier medico-legal report of Police Chief Inspector, Medico-Legal Officer Mesalyn Milagros Ripa-Probadora, MD, of the Manila Police District (MPD).

Capule said, "Dr. Palmero admitted that his opinion as to the cause of death of Horacio Tomas P. Castillo III was not specifically due to trauma and was based merely on limited data and tissue samples."

Solano said Capule's findings were corroborated by Dr. Bu C. Castro, a medical expert of his co-respondent Axel Hipe, and that these findings were supported and corroborated by Atty. Floreto P. Arizala Jr., MD, the former Chief of the Medico-Legal Department of the National Bureau of Investigation.

"Atty. Arizala executed a Judicial Affidavit dated 14 November 2017, where he made a categorical findings and pronouncement that the findings in the Medico-Legal Report No. M-2017-499 of Medico- Legal Officer PCI Mesalyn Milagros Ripa-Probadora that Horacio has grossly enlarged heart is a confirmation of the finding that Horacio has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)," Solano added.

Arizala said Palmero's findings are "out of this world," as it has "no factual and medical basis."

"The said finding is completely hearsay and speculative, and it cannot and should not be made as a legal basis for filing a criminal case," Arizala said.

Ripa-Probadora's report did not mention Castillo's injuries as "severe," said Arizala, adding it was only Palmero who categorized the injuries suffered by Castillo as severe.

Arizala went on to say only Ripa-Probadora's report should be considered as she was the one who "personally made an actual viewing and examination of the said injures of Horacio."

Solano argued Palmero never executed an affidavit to attest under oath his findings, and that he's not a licensed pathologist.

He said, "It is reported that Dr. Palmero is not a licensed pathologist as he is reported to be not a member of the prestigious Fellow, Philippine Society of Pathologists (FPSP)," but rather Fellow, Philippine Society of Medical Specialists.

"Simply put, if the report is true that Dr. Palmero is not a Licensed Pathologist and member of the FPSP, this Histopath Findings of Dr. Palmero does not have any evidentiary value," said Arizala.

Solano wants the DOJ not to accept the medical findings or opinions of Palmero.