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Fratman’s statement to boost hazing case – DOJ

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II bared this yesterday as he welcomed the decision of the Senate panel probing the latest hazing case to release the transcript of the executive session where Solano reportedly named seven individuals responsible for Castillo’s death. Photo from Horacio Tomas Castillo III's Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The testimony of Aegis Juris fraternity member John Paul Solano in the Senate may be used for the preliminary investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the fatal hazing of University of Sto. Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II bared this yesterday as he welcomed the decision of the Senate panel probing the latest hazing case to release the transcript of the executive session where Solano reportedly named seven individuals responsible for Castillo’s death.

“That’s a good development. It will shed more lights on what happened during the initiation rites,” he said in a text message.

Aguirre said Solano’s statements could be “considered as part of the evidence in the case” by the investigating panel of prosecutors for the charges of murder, violation of Republic Act 8049 (Anti-Hazing Law), perjury and obstruction of justice against Solano and 36 other respondents filed by the Manila Police District and parents of Castillo.

“I’m sure the complainants will get it (Solano’s testimony in Senate) and ask the panel to make it part of the records of the case,” he suggested.

The Senate is set to release today the transcript of Solano’s testimony during executive session last Sept. 25 after the fratman failed to deliver his promise to submit an affidavit formalizing his statements on what transpired during Castillo’s hazing last Sept. 16 and who were present during the incident.

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Solano was given until Oct. 16 by the Senate to submit his sworn affidavit, which he failed to do.

“Solano, during the executive session and in the presence of counsel, divulged vital information that will help the authorities solve the case, prosecute the culprits, and give justice to the death of Atio Castillo,” the Senate said in its resolution.

Solano was earlier arrested by MPD, but was ordered released by the DOJ due to improper detention and filing of charges via inquest by the police.

He is required to submit a counter-affidavit to the DOJ as one of the respondents in the criminal charges.

No witness 

Meanwhile, the DOJ started the preliminary investigation on Castillo’s case without any witness in its custody.

Aguirre had asked Ralph Trangia, one of the respondents who returned to the country last Oct.10 after flying to the US days after the death of Castillo, to testify and had offered state protection but the fraternity member has yet to decide.

The DOJ chief earlier revealed that there were two potential witnesses who went to his office earlier, but have not returned allegedly due to threats to their safety.

Aguirre, a fratman himself, said the two witnesses – a member of the fraternity and one of eight neophytes who underwent hazing prior to Castillo – provided tips but did not submit affidavits.

He was told that Castillo was actually not part of the batch that underwent hazing rites and that members of the fraternity only “picked on him.”

He also learned that senior members of the fraternity have prevented their members and neophytes from cooperating with authorities by invoking their Code of Silence.

The DOJ chief revealed that the NBI, which has been tasked to conduct a parallel probe on Castillo’s death, also has no witness in its custody.

Aguirre reiterated his call for witnesses to surface and help provide justice for Castillo’s death.

The DOJ investigating panel chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva has set on Oct. 24 and 30 the hearings for submission of answers of the respondents in the case, including UST law dean and Aegis Juris member Nilo Divina. – With Paolo Romero

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