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Escudero: Fratmen involved in Atio’s death, cover-up mar the legal profession

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, a lawyer, said the fratmen’s participation in the online exchange and in the hazing rite could prevent the law students from taking the bar examination and could be grounds for the disbarment of practicing lawyers. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines — The Aegis Juris fraternity members involved in the killing of the University of Santo Tomas law freshman are tarnishing the reputation of the law profession, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Thursday.

During the Kapihan sa Senado forum, Escudero said the social media conversation of Aegis Juris fratmen—composed of law students and practicing lawyers—was a proof that they intended to conceal the fatal hazing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

“Sa ilalim ng ating batas, kelangang managot ang dapat managot. Dapat inisip nila ‘yung kinabukasan nila bago sila nanakit ng kapwa sa ngalan man ng initiation o brotherhood (Under the law, they should be held accountable. They should’ve thought about their future before they hurt a person in the name of initiation or brotherhood),” Escudero said.  

During the resumption of the inquiry into Castillo’s death, Manila Police District chief Joel Coronel revealed the chilling Facebook chats among Aegis Juris fratmen, detailing how they plotted to cover up the death of the fraternity neophyte.

Hours after Castillo’s death, 19 of those in the group chat met at Novotel Manila in Quezon City.

Escudero, a lawyer, said the fratmen’s participation in the online exchange and in the hazing rite could prevent the law students from taking the bar examination and could be grounds for the disbarment of practicing lawyers.

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“Ang paglabag sa anti-hazing law, ang pag-commit ng murder, ang pagiging accessory ng murder, ito ay nag-co-constitute sa tinatawag nating moral turpitude (Violating the Anti-Hazing Law, committing murder and being an accessory to a murder constitute moral turpitude),” he said.

Charges of murder, robbery, perjury and obstruction of justice have been filed against the involved fratmen.

READAegis Juris members intended to evade probe, says MPD chief

UST's silence on Atio's death

Escudero also expressed his disappointment over the silence of UST over the death of Castillo.

“Para silang walang pakialam. Sa totoo lang, nakaka-disappoint. Sila pa naman ay isang religious school dapat sila ‘yung nangunguna para magbgay ng tama at mabuting ehemplo partikular na sa pagpapaharap sa sinumang liable sa krimeng ito (They don’t seem to care. Truth be told, this is disappointing. As a religious school, they should be at the forefront of giving good example, particularly in bringing those who are liable),” he said.

Last month, a group of Thomasian alumni also slammed the university for being mum on Castillo’s death.

“The University of Santo Tomas is still tight-lipped on the matter, consistent with its adherence to a culture of silence whenever major issues arise. We believe that the University’s sole statement of condolence and condemnation is mere lip service,” the group said.

Escudero also noted that there is negligence on the part of UST.

Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, an alumnus of Aegis Juris, repeatedly denied his knowledge about the hazing, saying the “welcome ceremony” of the fraternity was not coordinated with the school.

Under the Anti-Hazing Law, school authorities must be informed in writing of hazing or initiation rites seven days before the activity.

"The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites," Republic Act No. 8049 reads.

READAnti-hazing law: 22 years, 1 conviction

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