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16 Aegis Juris fratmen on DOJ departure lookout

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the lookout bulletin order (LBO), contained in a three-page memorandum issued yesterday, would bar the 16 from traveling outside the country without approval from authorities. File

MANILA, Philippines —  Sixteen members of Aegis Juris fraternity suspected of involvement in the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III have been placed on the immigration lookout bulletin by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the lookout bulletin order (LBO), contained in a three-page memorandum issued yesterday, would bar the 16 from traveling outside the country without approval from authorities.

Unlike a hold departure order issued by a court, which automatically prevents the subjects from leaving the country, the LBO is issued for monitoring purposes only, just like a watchlist order.

Individuals in an LBO may be allowed to leave the country, but only after securing an Allow Departure Order (ADO) from the DOJ. 

Covered by the order is John Paul Solano, who had claimed to have taken Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital after finding him sprawled on a sidewalk in Balut, Tondo Sunday morning.

Solano initially identified himself to police as a medical technician at the San Lazaro Hospital. He turned out to be also a UST Law student and member of the Aegis Juris.

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The other frat members in the LBO are Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Marc Anthony Ventura, Axel Mundo Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Ralph Trangia, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Mattew Rodrigo, Carl Mattew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.

Balag is said to be the head of the fraternity in UST while Ventura and Hipe are allegedly the “masters of initiation.” Trangia’s father reportedly owns the red pickup that brought Castillo to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Chat logs now being verified by the police indicate that Balag ordered fraternity members to observe a code of silence – “manahimik muna lahat” – after Hipe reported an “emergency” at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

The police have started a manhunt for the suspects.

“In order not to frustrate the ends of justice to ensure that persons-of-interest shall remain within our jurisdiction, and considering the gravity of the offense, there is a strong possibility that they may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country,” the DOJ explained in its order.

Aguirre’s order was addressed to Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

Aguirre said the names of the 16 individuals on the LBO were provided to his office by police investigators.

“I call upon the persons named in the LBO or anyone who has knowledge of what happened to Mr. Horacio Tomas Castillo III to come forward and to clear their names and share what they know,” Aguirre said in a statement.

Aguirre earlier directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe on Castillo’s death.   

False statements

Manila Police District director Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel said Solano “deliberately, intentionally and maliciously gave false statements” to investigators.

“At present, he is considered a principal suspect in the killing of Horacio Castillo III and manhunt operations are ongoing to effect his capture and arrest,” he added.

Police also said the red Mitsubishi Strada (ZTV 539) used to transport Castillo to the hospital was registered to Antonio Trangia, the father of one of the suspects. The elder Trangia is also an officer of Aegis Juris.

Coronel revealed there are “a handful or more suspects” but he declined to name them.

He pointed out they are “all officers of Aegis Juris fraternity currently enrolled (in UST).” 

He stressed fraternity officers not present in deadly initiation rites could also be held criminally liable.

“It is provided in the anti-hazing law that officers of fraternities or organizations could be held liable in events or incidents such as hazing,” he said. “There is a possibility that even if they are not present during hazing rites, they may have participated in recruitment and eventual hazing or initiation.”

Some members of the fraternity’s female counterpart Regina Juris who may have joined in the initiation rites could also be included in the investigation, as are members of the UST Faculty of Civil Law who could be “co-conspirators, accomplices, accessories.”

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde said Coronel, being a lawyer, would know who among the members of Aeris Juris could be held accountable for the death of Castillo.

“I think it will go up to the president of that fraternity. They have this liability, I’m sure,” Albayalde told a news briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“I think it’s very simple, the officers of Aegis Juris fraternity are there,” said Albayalde.

Police also released two closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage provided by UST, which showed Castillo walking with some men, including Solano, along Dapitan Street at around 11:25 a.m. last Sept. 16.

Chat log

Police are also checking for leads in the chat logs of some members of Aegis Juris.

Investigators said screenshots of conversations, posted on Facebook page Hustisya Para Kay Horacio, could not be independently verified.

The first part of the conversation revolved around alleged fraternity members looking for a venue for the group’s “FR” or final rites.

The latter part mentioned an emergency, with one of the members asking for a “code of silence” and “deactivation” of accounts.

The Facebook accounts in the chat logs are not available, indicating that the owners may have deactivated their accounts or these were inexistent in the first place.

Relatives and friends of Castillo are urging those with knowledge of the incident to surface and cooperate in the investigation.

Also yesterday, the driver of the Uber car contacted by Castillo to take his bag to his house in Makati City at around 1:40 p.m. last Saturday said the hazing victim looked distraught. 

The driver, who declined to be named, said Castillo also told him to call him upon reaching his house so he could notify the house help.

He said the one who received the bag just asked him if he was Castillo’s friend. The driver said Castillo was sweating profusely and appeared tense. He said he learned only of Castillo’s death from Uber. He said he is ready to help in the investigation.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), for its part, said it would let law enforcement agencies take the lead in investigating Castillo’s death.

“Our investigating teams whenever sent to do investigation of cases do so with the view towards determining the existence of human rights violations,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said. 

“Of course, the CHR team in these instances defer to the law enforcement agencies as they perform their primary function,” he pointed out.

A CHR investigator earlier went to the MPD to request access to files on Castillo’s case.

Suspension lifted

UST Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina, meanwhile, announced the lifting of suspension of Aegis Juris members following the MPD’s expressing disappointment that the suspension was hampering investigation.

“The preventive suspension does not bar them from asking the names of the officers and members of the fraternity and conducting the investigation. UST in fact has given the names and addresses to the police,” Divina told The STAR. -With Ghio Ong, Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero, Emmanuel Tupas

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