A SENATOR warned on Monday that government witness Mark Anthony Ventura could be a “Trojan horse” planted by the Aegis Juris Fraternity to disrupt the investigation into the death of hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said there were inconsistencies in the statements of Ventura, the fraternity’s secretary who joined the witness protection program last Oct. 25.
The inconsistencies need to be “refined,” Lacson told the Varsitarian after the Senate hearing.
“‘Yung sinabi kong posibilidad parang wina-warning-an ko lang `yung Department of Justice Acting Prosecutor General [George Catalan Jr.] na baka may possibility na Trojan horse [si Ventura] para masira ang kaso,” he added.
Lacson quoted John Paul Solano, the medical technologist who was called by the Aegis Juris fratmen to revive Atio, as saying he slapped the 22-year-old neophyte on the face to wake him up.
Ventura claimed Solano merely checked Atio’s pulse and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Ventura also denied being the fraternity’s master initiator when documents stated otherwise, Lacson said.
“Kasi magkaiba ang kanilang testimony. Tulad nu’n may mga sinabi siya dito na hindi tama. Sabi niya hindi siya `yung MI (master initiator) and then lumalabas kung titignan mo `yung documents, of course meron siyang alibi na tumigil na siya [sa] pagiging MI,” he said.
Catalan said Ventura had been serving as a provisional witness since Oct. 24, and was still a suspect in the hazing death of Atio.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, however, said Ventura’s point-by-point narrative could be considered substantial testimony against the fratmen.
“Ako naniniwala ako sa mga statements ni Ventura. Mabigat `yung mga sinabi at isinalaysay niya. I don’t believe that he is a Trojan horse. I believe that he is telling the truth. [Ang] mahalaga nakinig siya sa kanyang konsensya. As a star witness in this case, he will be able to pin down Aegis Juris fratmen,” Zubiri told the Varsitarian.
Ventura had revealed to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre that the Civil Law freshman received four paddle strikes before he collapsed.
The fifth one, given by fraternity leader Arvin Balag, rendered the Aegis Juris neophyte unconscious.
Zubiri said it was Solano, one of the lead suspects, who was the “Trojan horse” because of the false testimonies he had given in the course of the investigation.
Ventura, Balag and Solano are among the 18 suspects facing complaints of murder, robbery and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law in connection with Castillo’s death.