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Law dean prods Atio's kin not to yield to lawyer's whims

In this Sept. 25, 2017 file photo, parents of Horacio "Atio" Castillo III attend a Senate investigation into hazing deaths. Castillo was apparently killed in an hazing session by fraternity Aegis Juris. Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas law dean and Aegis Juris Fraternity member Nilo Divina said that the parents of hazing victim Horacio "Atio" Castillo III may be giving in to the whims of their lawyer, instead of finding the truth about their son's death.

As the Department of Justice started on Wednesday the preliminary investigation probe into the murder, anti-hazing raps against members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, Atio's parents manifested that they want Divina and other UST officials to be included as respondents in the case.

Atio, a 22-year-old University of Santo Tomas first year law student, is believed to be a victim of hazing of Aegis Juris Fraternity.

High-profile lawyer Lorna Kapunan serves as counsel to Atio's parents, who are private complainants in the case. They filed murder, anti-hazing and robbery complaints against John Paul Solano, a primary suspect in the case, and 17 others.

But Divina, in a statement, said: "It's unfortunate that Atio's family is being manipulated by their lawyer into doing something that is patently baseless."

"Our objective should be to find justice for Atio and find out the truth. Instead the obvious objective is now to lay the blame on innocent people to further the lawyer's agenda," Divina added.

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Divina has earlier said that he is considering if he should resign following the news of Atio's death due to hazing.

The Manila Police District, a public complainant in the case, also manifested that it will bolster their complaint.

The DOJ gave complainants until October 9 to submit their supplemental affidavit complaint and additional evidence.

The panel of prosecutors, led by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, also gave the respondents until October 24 to file their counter-affidavits.

Solano, one of the main suspects, attended the hearing. He was earlier detained by the Manila Police District after his surrender, but the DOJ ordered his release.

Atio was laid to rest on September 27 at the Manila Memorial Park.

The law against hazing, Republic Act 8049, has been enacted 22 years ago but only one has been convicted despite the dozens of injuries and killings related to fraternities.

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