Fratman breaks down on witness stand in Atio Castillo trial

MANILA, Philippines – Aegis Juris fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura broke down in tears when he took the witness stand on Tuesday, August 14, to identify the 10 accused in the hazing-related death of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 started the trial of the 10 fratmen on Tuesday, hearing their bail petitions.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors put Ventura, their star witness, to the stand to try to prove that the evidence of guilt is strong to keep the fratmen in jail.

According to 4 people inside the courtroom whom Rappler talked to, Ventura “broke down” when he had to identify his fraternity brothers. The sources said Ventura started to cry when he had to go up to the accused and point to them one by one.

Castillo’s mother Carmina said as much.

“He was emotional. First time niya mag-testify and to see his brods after the incident. Siyempre mahirap para sa kanya. Ang sabi nga niya, pamilya niya 'yang mga 'yan, brod nga eh, di ba? But he has to tell the truth,” Carmina said after the hearing.

(He was emotional. It was his first time to testify and see his brothers after the incident. Of course this is hard for him. As he said, they are his family, they are his brothers. But he has to tell the truth.) (READ: Brotherhood up to the end: Aegis Juris fratmen surrender together)

Asked about it, Arvin Balag’s lawyer Teodoro Jumamil said Ventura “identified [the accused] as those charged.”

The 10 charged are:

An emotional Marc Ventura broke to tears when he had to go near his fraternity brothers to identify them. Hearing was suspended because he cannot be cross examined in his state, according to people inside the courtroom. — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) August 14, 2018

'More names'

Jumamil did not expound on Ventura’s testimonies. All other lawyers, as well as the Castillos, were also restrained with the information they gave to media, citing sub judice.  (READ: The different angles in Atio Castillo's hazing case)

Reporters were barred from going inside the courtroom, with Branch 20 staff and lawyers pointing to each other when we filed a written request to cover a public hearing.

Our sources said Ventura mentioned more names of fraternity members aside from the 10 charged, but that those names were the same with what was contained in his affidavit. You can read the contents of the affidavit here.

Ventura admitted to participating in the hazing rites, but only during the time they were hitting Castillo’s arms with a spatula to try and calm the swelling.

The bail hearing was supposed to resume at 2 pm on Tuesday, but it had to be suspended because Ventura could not be cross-examined in his emotional state. The next hearing is set for September 4. 

“We’re very happy that [Marc was] able to testify. Na-deliver niya ang testimony and he’s committed na sabihin kung ano 'yung totoo, kung ano talaga 'yung nangyari, para hindi na maulit ito, para ito na 'yung huli,” said Carmina.

(We’re very happy that Marc was able to testify. He was able to deliver his testimony and he’s committed to telling the truth, what really happened, so this doesn’t happen again, for this to be the last.) –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.