Members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity behind the hazing death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III should admit to their “abominable crime” so that “justice may be served,” the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Rector said Friday.
Addressing the fatal hazing publicly for the first time, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. appealed to the “conscience and to that little goodness” of Castillo’s killers “that they may value their faith as Thomasians.”
“Please pray to God that the perpetrators of this abominable crime admit their faults so that justice may be served,” he said in his homily during the Mass marking the 40th day of Atio’s death.
The Mass was attended by Atio’s friends, professors in the Faculty of Civil Law and former mentors in the Faculty of Arts and Letters, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science early this year.
“Tonight, my dear Thomasians, [w]e give space for grief and hope to stand together. Let tears fall down on our cheeks [and] our hearts mourn for the loss of our loved ones,” he added.
Dagohoy said Atio’s death gave hope and courage in the time of “darkness and hopelessness.”
“We pray for Horacio [whose death] gives us hope and courage. We hope that our departed Thomasians, particularly Horacio, enjoy God’s eternal embrace. [R]emembering our deceased loved ones make our sense of hope alive,” he added.
The UST Rector also led the candle-lighting ceremony after the Mass to remember Atio and other departed Thomasians.
The 22-year-old Atio died on Sept. 17 after undergoing the “welcome rites” of Aegis Juris Fraternity.
State witness and Aegis Juris officer Mark Ventura on Wednesday agreed to testify against his fraternity brothers, revealing the details of the initiation rites that killed Atio.
Aegis Juris Fraternity members and alumni who took part in the attempted cover-up of the hazing death of Atio Castillo III should also be held accountable under law, the lawyer of the Castillo family said on Friday.
“The Anti-Hazing Law [states that] not only those who directly participated but also those who contributed to [the] coverup [should be held liable],” Kapunan told the Varsitarian after a Mass commemorating the 40th day since Atio’s death at the Santuario de San Antonio in Makati.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued last Oct. 26 an immigration lookout order against Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, Faculty Secretary Arthur Capili as well as 63 others. Aegis Juris fratmen and alumni were said to have discussed how the fraternity should deal with the death of Atio in a Facebook chat group that was later leaked to the public.
In a statement sent to the Varsitarian, Divina said he would comply with the DOJ order, and was confident that his name would soon be cleared. Divina denies any involvement in the fraternity’s activities after assuming the UST law deanship.
Kapunan echoed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s remarks that the testimony of Ventura, the Aegis Juris secretary who was named a state witness on Oct. 25, on the initiation rites that killed Atio was “direct evidence” against the fratmen.
“The significance today being the 40th day of Atio’s case is [that] we [are] certainly wiser than the [time he] passed away because the evidence is coming to us,” she said. Winona S. Sadia, Pauline Faye V. Tria and Erma R. Edera