By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing charges against 10 members of the Aegis Juris fraternity over the death of hazing victim Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III.
On the other hand, the DOJ cleared University of Sto. Tomas (UST) civil law dean Nilo Divina and several others for their involvement in the death of Aegis Juris neophyte due to the lack of probable cause and insufficiency of evidence.
With the findings, Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. said that charges has been filed today (March 8) before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) with no bail recommended.
In a 47-page resolution, the DOJ recommended charging in court for violating Republic Act 8049 (the Anti-Hazing Law) Aegis Juris president Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marelino Bagtang, Jose Miguel Salamat, and Robin Ramos.
Apart from them, the DOJ recommended charging Aegis Juris member John Paul Solano with perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code and obstruction of justice under Section1(f) and (i) of Presidential Decree 1829.
The DOJ issued the resolution based on the preliminary investigation a panel of prosecutors conducted over the criminal complaints filed by the Manila Police District (MPD) and Atio’s parents, Horacio Jr. and Carminia.
“Based on the evidence at hand, there is probable cause to indict the following respondents: Balag, Trangia, Onofre, han, Rodrigo, Macabali, Hipe, Bagtang, Salamat, and Ramos,” read the resolution is signed by the members of the prosecution panel–Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva and Prosecution Attorneys Wendell Bendoval and Honeyrose Delgado–with the approving signatures of Caralan. and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.
“The presence and participation of the said respondents in the initiation rites were established by the statements of both respondents Solano and [Mark Anthony] Ventura,” the resolution pointed out.
Catalan explained to reporters the findings were primarily based on the testimony of Aegis Juris member Mark Anthony Ventura who participated in the Sept. 17, 2017 initiation rites of Atio who studied law at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST)
“The principal basis is the testimony of witness Mark Ventura…wherein he stated in detail (what happened),” said Catalan.
Because of his testimony, the DOJ resolution ruled: “The charges against respondent Mark Anthony Ventura is hereby recommended dismissed by reason and subject of his coverage under the Witness Protection, Security and Benefits Program of the Department of Justice (WPSBP-DOJ).”
The resolution also recommended that the MPD file another criminal complaint before the DOJ against Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Capulong, Kim Cyrill Roque, Ged Villanueva, Edric Pilapil and RR Magbuhos
“Criminal investigation will be conducted against them because they were not charged originally but were mentioned by witness Ventura in his sinumpaang salaysay (sworn statement),” Catalan explained.