2 hazing victims surface, point to Veluz as ‘handler’By Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna—Two newly recruited members of the Lex Leonum Fraternitas, who claimed to have undergone the same initiation rites as victim Marc Andre Marcos, have sought police protection and named suspect Gian Angelo Veluz as their handler.
“Please don’t call them suspects. They are also victims,” said the guardian of the two neophytes identified as Ryan Maranan and Ed Lara.
The guardian, who refused to be identified, said the two had come forward to clear their names after their pictures when they met with the Marcos family came out on Facebook. The parents of the two victims are working abroad, their guardian added.
“They are not in good shape,” said Chief Supt. James Melad, regional police director, of Maranan and Lara. “They are limping and have bruises all over, from the abdomen down (to their legs).”
Although the two victims have yet to give a full statement to the police, Senior Supt. John Bulalacao, Cavite police director, said they had identified Veluz as their “handler” who guided them through the initiation rites.
“(But) they said they didn’t know (if Veluz was also Marcos’ handler) because they were blindfolded. They also confirmed that they were with Marcos (at the farm). There were nine neophytes,” the police director added.
“The (two) said they were divided into groups of three and that their leader or ninong was Gian Angelo Veluz,” Bulalacao said, adding that the police were now confirming the identities of the fraternity members who actually beat up Marcos.
Bulalacao also dismissed the claims of Lex Leonum Fraternitas that it does not conduct hazing. “That’s impossible. It’s not true. We have two of its victims who are willing to testify,” he said in an interview.
As of 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Bulalacao said he was still waiting for Veluz to surrender. The suspect’s father had promised to turn in his son on Friday.
“I’m here at headquarters but there’s still no message if (Veluz) is going to surrender,” said Bulalacao who also denied reports that an emissary between the Veluz family and investigators had arranged the suspect’s surrender.
In Ramos, Tarlac, lawyer Mariemeir Marcos-Rivera had only four words for the lawyer of the Lex Leonum Fraternitas: “See you in court.”
Rivera issued the challenge on behalf of the Marcos family on Friday as the fraternity’s lawyer, Ariel Inton, denied the group’s involvement in the death of Marcos.
The family, however, declined to discuss the pieces of evidence and documents they were holding which, Rivera believed, would nail the people behind her nephew’s death.
Bulalacao said the two freshman law students from San Beda College called the police Thursday and asked to meet with them. “They said they were scared dahil nag-iinit na sila,” (they felt they were in hot water).
Asked if that meant threats to the victims’ security, Bulalacao replied: “It is very possible that they are getting threats as several names (of other frat members) are coming out in social networking sites.”
According to the initial statement of the two victims, the group first met at a bar in Las Piñas Saturday evening before proceeding to a frat house, also in Las Piñas City. On Sunday morning, the group went to the farm owned by the Veluz family in Dasmariñas City, Cavite province.
Melad said the two could be potential witnesses and complainants.
But Lara’s and Maranan’s guardian said the two were not pressing any charges, nor were they saying anything incriminating. “How could they, when they were blindfolded (throughout the initiation),” he added.
Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome assured the Marcos family that they were digging deep into the incident to build an airtight case.
Bartolome, who went to Tarlac with the investigation team handling the case, said they have identified the organization and the people suspected to be behind Marcos’ death though he declined to release their names to reporters.
He said they were verifying information and will soon file amendments to the charges filed in the Cavite prosecutor’s office so they can include additional respondents in the case.
A 30-vehicle “Motorcade for Justice” on Friday traveled the 30-km stretch from Tarlac City to Ramos carrying streamers supporting Marcos and other victims of fraternity hazing.
Students who joined the motorcade wore black and violet shirts and called for the enforcement of Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law.
Retired Judge Cesar Sotero, dean of the Tarlac State University College of Law, called on law schools in the country to review what he called “the malaise that continues to take (its) toll on future lawyers.”
In a statement, Sotero said: “This latest experience, painful as it is, is an awakening. Even with a law on hand, educators should not be complacent. More stringent measures should be employed to prevent this thing from happening again.”
On Thursday, members of the provincial board of Tarlac offered a minute of silence for Marcos. Some government employees in the province wore black ribbons as a sign of mourning.
As tarpaulin streamers seeking justice for Marcos waved from all corners of the province, law students and lawyers in Tarlac led a candle-lighting ceremony on Friday to mourn his death. With a report from Jo Martinez-Clemente, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Philip C. Tubeza