The preliminary investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the hazing slay of Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III ended last Jan. 22 with frat brothers questioning each other’s statements anew.
Main suspect John Paul Solano, a medical technology alumnus, questioned on Monday the claims of state witness Marc Ventura who said Atio was paddled hard on his lower extremities during the hazing rites in September.
In a statement, Solano said Ventura’s sworn statement “cannot prevail” over the physical evidence shown in the medico-legal reports prepared by the Manila Police District (MPD) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
“[If] it were true that Atio was hit hard five times with a paddle on his lower extremities as described by respondent Ventura in his said sinumpaang salaysay (sworn statement), there should have been some proof of traumatic or physical injuries on his lower extremities particularly on his thighs,” the statement read.
Solano claimed Ventura “cannot qualify or should not [be] qualified as state witness or admitted to the Witness Protection Program because his testimony cannot be substantially corroborated on its material points.”
Reports by medico-legal officers from MPD and PNP did not contain findings of traumatic or physical injuries on Atio’s lower extremities.
During the hearing, Ventura retracted his statement to the investigating panel, saying the paddling of Atio was only mild.
Atio’s mother Carmina Castillo refuted the claims of Solano’s camp, pointing out that how a person sustained bruises from hard blows was arbitrary.
“Walang representation `yung school, which is very important. Wala man lang doctor. The fact is kanya-kanya yun. It’s relative. Kayo, how will you accept a punch, depende na `yun sayo,” she said.
Aegis Juris alumni involved
The Castillo family also pointed anew to the Aegis Juris Fraternity alumni’s involvement in the initiation rites.
Carmina speculated on the possibility that alumni of the law fraternity funded the initiation rites.
“Sinong nagbibigay ng pondo, tandaan ninyong mga bata ito. Wala namang mga pera to e. They just rely on allowances. Who gives money for the initiation? And then the fact again na nagpupunta sila sa Pacific Star building? Anong meron dun?” she added.
Ventura confirmed in the hearing that during his own initiation, he went to the Pacific Star building in Makati City and rendered services and errands to Aegis Juris alumni who worked there. The DivinaLaw office of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, an Aegis Juris alumnus, holds offices in the building.
Divina has dismissed accusations that Atio visited his law firm during the supposed week-long initiation rites, saying the information came from “hearsay” and could not be used against him.
‘Confident of conviction’
Carmina Castillo said she was confident her family would attain justice after the hazing case was submitted for resolution on the same day.
“I’m very very confident that we will have a conviction,” she said.
Castillo’s lawyer Lorna Kapunan was also confident the Castillos would win the case because of President Duterte’s support.
“I think what makes it different is political will. The president himself said so that there will be justice to the parents. The DOJ is using all its resources,” she said.