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UST Law dean files 3rd libel case vs Kapunan over hazing claims

University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina filed a third libel complaint against lawyer Lorna Kapunan, the legal counsel of the family of hazing victim Horacio "Atio" Castillo III and the estranged wife of Commission on Elections Chief Andres Bautista, Patricia. He is asking a total of P180 million in damages from Kapunan. STAR/Mong Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina has filed a third libel complaint against lawyer Lorna Kapunan over her claims that he is liable for the death of hazing victim Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

In the third complaint, Divina is seeking for P60 million in damages from Kapunan, the lawyer of the Castillo family.

Divina wants Kapunan held accountable for her remarks in a story published by the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST, on October 8.

Kapunan said that Divina is liable for the death of Castillo as the head of the Faculty of Civil Law.

“Under the law, the university, the head of the college, and the head of the organization are liable. So all of them must be investigated,” Kapunan was quoted in the Varsitarian article.

READAnti-hazing law: 22 years, 1 conviction

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Divina also said that Kapunan’s statement “[The] dean should come forward and not be an obstructionist to justice [because] no one is above the law” maliciously implied that he committed obstruction of justice and violated the Anti-Hazing Law.

According to the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995, school authorities who consent to the hazing, or who have actual knowledge of it but fail to take any action to prevent it, shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.

Under the law, no hazing or initiation rites shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven days before the conduct. At least two representatives of the school or organization must also be present during initiation to ensure that violence will not be employed.

Castillo was declared dead after incurring injuries from hazing rites of Aegis Juris Fraternity.

READUST law freshman dies in alleged frat hazing

Divina is an alumnus of the fraternity. He, however, repeatedly claimed that he took a leave of absence from the fraternity when he assumed the deanship eight years ago.

Divina also filed a separate libel case against lawyer Lino Kapunan, who is also a member of the Castillos' legal team.

In an interview on CNN Philippines, Lino Kapunan claimed Divina had knowledge of the hazing.

“The foregoing blatantly false claim goes against my public pronouncement that I do not know Atio and I had absolutely no knowledge of anyone being recruited as a neophyte in Aegis Juris considering I have long been inactive from the fraternity,” Divina said.

He added: “The statement thus portrays me as a liar.”

Earlier, Divina also filed two libel cases amounting to P120 million against Lorna Kapunan, who is also the legal counsel of Commission Chairman Andres Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia.

He is asking a total of P180 million in damages from Kapunan.

In the first complaint, Divina cited the “malicious” public allegations made by Kapunan and Bautista’s wife about his law firm Divina Law Office; while in his second complaint, the law dean cited the earlier statements of Kapunan linking him to Castillo’s death.

READUST law dean sets P120-M libel raps

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