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Suspect in UST hazing death flies to Taiwan

Ralph Trangia

MANILA, Philippines — One of the Aegis Juris fraternity members linked to the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio Castillo III has left the country.

This is according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI), which has placed the suspects on a lookout bulletin.

BI spokesperson Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said their records showed that Ralph Caballes Trangia – born on Nov. 10, 1995 – left for Taipei, Taiwan last Tuesday on Eva Air flight BR262.

“The rest appear to be still in the country or (we) do not have enough information on their identity to ascertain if they are the same persons as those in the BI records,” Mangrobang said.

Tangria’s departure came a day before Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II announced his issuance of a memorandum order placing the 16 Aegis Juris members on the lookout bulletin.

Aguirre said he has directed the National Bureau of Investigation to coordinate with Interpol in locating Trianga.

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“We will also seek the immediate cancellation of his passport to make sure he would not be able to jump to another country,” he said.

In a statement, Aegis Juris said members implicated in Castillo’s death are ready to submit themselves to investigators.

“Our steadfast efforts to convince our brods to submit themselves to investigation bore fruition as they express their willingness to appear and submit to investigation,” it said. It was not clear if Tangria was among them.

“Just like everyone, we want to see that justice is served for the death of Brod Atio. And we share the anguish of his parents to know also the incidents that led to his untimely demise,” it added, referring to Castillo by his nickname.

The Manila Police District (MPD) considers Trangia a “primary suspect” in the death of Castillo. The 22-year-old law freshman died of heart attack triggered by injuries from hazing by his fraternity brothers.

Trangia’s father – also tagged as “primary suspect” – is the registered owner of the red Mitsubishi Strada (ZTV539) used by the suspects to take Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital where the latter was declared dead on arrival.

Police obtained their initial information about Castillo from John Paul Solano who took the law freshman to the hospital reportedly after seeing him sprawled on a sidewalk in Tondo in the morning of Sept. 17.

He had introduced himself as medical technician at the San Lazaro Hospital. Police later discovered Solano is also a law student and member of Aegis Juris.

The BI also has no record of Solano leaving or arriving in the country.

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, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Mattew Rodrigo, Carl Mattew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.

Trangia and other members of Aegis Juris had a previous run-in with the law. He and other fraternity brothers figured in a brawl with members of rival fraternity Gamma Delta Epsilon at the Manila Hotel in November last year, during the Bar exam season.

Arrested after the incident were Trangia, Balag, Macabali, Chan, Von Paulo Añonuevo, Marcelino Bagtang and Justin Carlos Garcia.

Cancel passport

With Trangia’s departure, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said they have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel the frat man’s passport.

“If his passport is cancelled, he will become an undocumented alien in Taiwan and this will expedite the process of bringing him back to the Philippines. We hope that he is still in Taiwan,” Dela Rosa said.

It was gathered that he is a regular traveler to San Francisco as he is a holder of a valid US visa.

Trangia’s ticket was bought on Sept. 18, a day after Castillo was taken to the hospital due to his hazing injuries. Dela Rosa also called on the 16 individuals to surrender. He expressed belief they are unlikely to fight back if accosted.

MPD director Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, for his part, told reporters that new leads indicated that Castillo and Solano were together before and after the initiation rites.

“Based on evidence and statements by witnesses, they positively saw Solano go out of the UST Dapitan gate at that time with Atio (Castillo’s nickname),” Coronel said.

Some UST students on social media disputed information from police that it was Castillo and Solano on videograb walking together on Dapitan Street outside UST at around 11:25 a.m. on Sept. 16. They claimed the slightly blurred images of the men were in wrong uniform.

Own up to ‘mistake’

UST Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina called on Aegis Juris members concerned to surface and explain their side “in the proper forum.”

“For those involved, there is no shame in owning up to one’s mistake. It is the best thing to do. Speak the truth, explain yourself in the proper forum, face up to the consequences of your actions, then start the process of reconciliation and healing,” Divina said on Facebook.

“This is the right way. It is the only way. Hiding the truth will never give you peace. Truth will set you free,” he added.

Divina himself is facing criticisms, as he is a member of the Aegis Juris.

He earlier maintained he has been on leave from the fraternity since he accepted the deanship eight years ago.

But a student who declined to be named debunked Divina’s claim that he has not been active in fraternity activities since becoming law dean.

“It’s not true. I saw him in one of their meetings just around two weeks ago,” the student said.

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said President Duterte is giving the police and other law enforcement agencies a free hand in the investigation of Castillo’s death. Janvic Mateo, Ghio Ong, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Christina Mendez

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