10 Aegis Juris fraternity members indicted over Atio Castillo hazing death

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday indicted ten members of the Aegis Juris fraternity over the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

In its resolution, the Justice Department said it found probable cause that the following fraternity members violated Republic Act 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law:

  • Arvin Balag
  • Ralph Trangia
  • Oliver John Audrey Onofre
  • Mhin Wei Chan
  • Hans Matthew Rodrigo
  • Joshua Joriel Macabali
  • Axel Munro Hipe
  • Marcelino Bagtang
  • Jose Miguel Salamat
  • Robin Ramos

The law states that violators, when the hazing results in death, will face life imprisonment.

"The principal basis is the testimony of witness Mark Ventura, who is covered under the Witness Protection Program...His testimony appears to be credible and believable," Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan said.

He added cases have been filed with the Manila Regional Trial Court.

John Paul Solano, one of the primary suspects in the case, was indicted with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Solano was a fellow Thomasian who claimed to have found Atio's body Sept. 17, 2017 in Tondo, Manila where it seemed to have been dumped. It was later revealed Solano, who has a background in medicine, was called by fraternity members to revive Atio.

After his unsuccessful attempt, Solano told the frat members to bring Atio to a hospital.

READ: Aegis Juris president struck final blow that rendered Atio unconscious – state witness

Meanwhile, the DOJ dismissed all cases against UST Law Dean Nilo Divina, UST Law Faculty Secretary Arthur Capili, and fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura.

The cases against Divina and Capili were dismissed due to insufficiency of evidence, while Ventura was cleared due to his status as a state witness.

In a statement, Divina said he is relieved to be cleared of any wrongdoing in the hazing case.

"I have always maintained my full innocence throughout this unfortunate incident, and thankfully, this has now been established beyond question. As they say, the moral arc of the universe may be long but it bends towards justice," he said.

 

The DOJ, however, recommended further investigation against the following:

  • Zach Abulencia
  • Daniel Ragos
  • Dave Felix
  • Sam Cagalingan
  • Alex Cairo
  • Luis Capulong
  • Kim Cyrill Roque
  • Ged Villanueva
  • Edric Pilapil
  • RR Magbuhos

The Justice Department reopened Atio's case on January 12 in the wake of Ventura's statement.

READ: DOJ reopens Atio Castillo's case

Atio's mother, Carmina Castillo, said while they are happy with the resolution, they still want accountability from everyone involved.

"We will continue to fight for justice. We will make sure that all those involved will eventually be put behind bars.  Those others who were named but not included will eventually fall. We know that they are guilty . Rest assured we will not stop until everybody involved in this crime will get their fair share of justice," she said in a statement.

The law student's father, Horacio Castillo, Jr., said the indictment of the ten AJF members is not enough.

"As far as we are concerned, they are all guilty and they should be tried," he told CNN Philippines.

He added they will push through with their case against the UST before the Vatican.

"This is what we've been waiting for, the probable cause, and with this, we can now elevate this to the Papal courts and to our complaint with the Vatican. Now, we have a basis," Castillo said.

Senator Migz Zubiri, a friend of the Castillo family, said he welcomes the development in Atio's case.

"At this point, I urge all the parties involved to cooperate fully and finally tell all in order to clear their conscience and aid in the swift resolution of this case," Zubiri said.

The Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, and Justice and Human Rights stated in their report the 22-year-old UST student, who had last told his parents he would attend a "welcoming party" of the fraternity, died on September 17 at the hands of fraternity members during hazing rites.

UST has also expelled eight law students allegedly involved in the case.

READ: UST expels eight students involved in Atio Castillo hazing death

The report also recommended UST law dean Nilo Divina's disbarment for failing to report Atio's death after knowing about it.

Following Atio's death, both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved bills completely banning hazing as a requirement for admission into a fraternity, sorority, or organization.

READ: House OKs new anti-hazing bill on third and final reading

 

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.