AN OFFICER of Aegis Juris Fraternity was admitted on Wednesday to the witness protection program in exchange for his testimony on the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Mark Ventura, together with his mother and his legal counsel, met with him on Tuesday at the Department of Justice and signified his intention to be admitted as a government witness.
Ventura executed an affidavit and signed a memorandum of agreement with the Justice department to join the witness protection program on Wednesday.
“Mr. Ventura narrated to us what he knew about what happened to Horacio “Atio” Castillo III from the time of his admission as a neophyte of the Aegis Juris Fraternity until his initiation rites on the early morning of Sept. 17, 2017,” Aguirre said in a press briefing.
Ventura, secretary of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, revealed that Atio received four paddle strikes before he collapsed, Aguirre said. The fifth one rendered him unconscious.
Aguirre quoted Ventura as saying the fratmen dripped candle wax on the 22-year-old to wake him up but the latter did not respond.
Attempts to revive Atio were supposedly made by the Aegis Juris fratmen until John Paul Solano, a licensed medical technologist and one of the primary suspects, arrived and brought the neophyte to the hospital, allegedly under the orders of fraternity president Arvin Balag.
According to Ventura, 10 members of Aegis Juris Fraternity participated in the initiation rites. Six other fratmen used a videoke machine while drinking, to drown out the noise during the initiation rites.
Ventura is one of the 18 suspects facing complaints of murder, robbery and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.
He was also present in the Aegis Juris meeting to plan a cover-up of Atio’s death at Novotel Hotel in Quezon City, according to Aguirre.