MANILA, Philippines – While the Department of Justice panel of prosecutors reopened the preliminary investigation on the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, the camp of Aegis Juris fratman and suspect John Paul Solano objected to its validity because it was done motu propio, meaning on its own.
Neither of the two parties requested for the reopening of the investigation. It was done in consideration of suspect-turned-witness Mark Anthony Ventura’s affidavit which he failed to submit on the initial deadline on October last year. The panel only received his affidavit on January 3.
During the hearing on Friday, January 13, Paterno Esmaquel, Solano's lawyer, questioned the panel’s decision to reopen the preliminary investigation, claiming that the case was already submitted for resolution on November last year.
For the Castillo camp however, this decision augurs well.
In Ventura’s sworn statement, he narrated what happened during the hazing rites. He detailed the participation of each member of the Aegis Juris who were present in Atio’s hazing.
Although difficult to digest, Atio’s parents believe Ventura’s testimony is credible enough to help their case.
“Sinusuntok na siya, pinapalo na siya, pinapahiya na siya, hindi lumaban ang anak ko. Pinapatay na siya, hindi siya lumaban,” Atio’s mother, Carmina Castillo said.
(They were punching him, hitting him, humiliating him, my son did not fight back. They were killing him, he did not fight back.)
"With this statement, they cannot deny that a crime was commited. Hindi nila pwedeng itanggi yung hazing na nangyari. (They cannot deny that hazing happened.) We have the witness to the crime, which I believe will put them all to jail,” she added.
The couple also expressed their appreciation to the DOJ for reopening the case after closing it earlier for resolution. But mostly, they were thankful to Ventura for standing up for the truth.
"Nagpapasalamat ako,” (I'm grateful to him.) the older Horatio Castillo said, “because siya lang yung, I think, naglakas ng loob to say the truth.” (He was the only one who was strong enough to tell the truth.)
They added that although Ventura has pleaded guilty to his involvement in the hazing rites, he was valid state witness. – Rappler.com