UST suspends Aegis Juris fratmen pending probe into fatal hazing
Published: 2:20 p.m., Sept. 18, 2017 | Updated: 11:32 p.m., Sept. 18, 2017
The dean of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law has suspended all officers and members of a fraternity following the death of its neophyte in alleged hazing rites.
In a memorandum, UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said that members of the Aegis Juris fraternity “would not be allowed to enter the campus of the Faculty of Civil Law, or attend classes until further notice.”
The preventive suspension took effect on Monday, a day after Horacio Tomas Castillo III, a 22-year-old freshman UST law student, was found dead by the side of the road in Tondo, Manila, a blanket draped over his body.
There was heavy hematoma on both his arms while bruises and dried-up candle wax were observed on different parts of his body. An autopsy conducted by the Manila Police District (MPD) on Monday said that the victim died of a massive heart attack.
Castillo was brought by concerned bystanders to Chinese General Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival at 9:21 a.m. on Sunday.
His parents, Horacio Jr. and Carmina, arrived at the hospital shortly after midnight on Monday after they received an anonymous text informing them that their son had been taken to the facility.
According to them, he said on Saturday morning that he would be attending the fraternity’s overnight welcoming ceremony at UST. He also assured them that he would be home by 6 a.m. on Sunday to attend Mass.
His parents said he was confident that nothing would happen to him in the fraternity, according to Claire Castillo Lee, Horacio Jr.’s cousin.
Lee, who is a graduate of the faculty of civil law at UST, spoke on behalf of the family to Divina on Monday morning. She told the Inquirer that Divina, a prominent member of the fraternity, promised to look into the case and take the appropriate administrative and legal actions.
Castillo’s relatives expressed concern over reports that fraternity members were being briefed by lawyers as early as Monday morning. Horacio Jr. and Carmina, on their part, demanded justice and expressed hope that no attempt at a cover-up would be made.
Supt. Erwin Margarejo, MPD spokesperson, told reporters afterward that there was no list of suspects for now. He also said he could not confirm how many persons of interest they were investigating.
“We are still collating all necessary documents for filing against possible suspects,” he added.
On the UST Faculty of Civil Law website, a page dedicated to the Aegis Juris Fraternity described it as a recognized law school-based fraternity “exclusively domiciled in the Faculty of Civil Law, University of Santo Tomas.”
Established in 1979, it prides itself in being called the “Lawyer Factory,” having “constantly produced the largest number of bar passers per year,” according to the website.
Meanwhile, the UST administration offered its sympathies to Castillo’s family and condemned those involved in his killing.
In an earlier interview, Carmina bewailed the loss of her son.
“I never laid a hand on him, I never slapped him. He was a good son. If he was on his way home, he would call me up to tell me,” she said.
“We took good care of him and they beat him up just like that, they left him on the street. What kind of lawyers are they?” she asked.
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