MPD: Man who found hazing victim’s body now ‘a person of interest’
Published: 6:12 p.m., Sept. 19, 2017 | Updated: 12:55 a.m., Sept. 20, 2017
Manila police are looking at John Paul Solano, who claimed to have found the body of Horacio Tomas Castillo III on a Manila sidewalk, as a person of interest in the investigation of the hazing death of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student.
Perjury charges will be brought against Solano for lying in his sworn statement, a spokesperson for the Manila police said on Tuesday.
Senators on Tuesday condemned the hazing of the 22-year-old Castillo and sought an inquiry into his death.
Also on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate Castillo’s death and file charges against members of the UST fraternity who hazed him.
All officers and members of the Aegis Juris fraternity have been suspended following the death of Castillo, a freshman law student who had sought membership in the group.
Castillo’s body lies at Santuario de San Antonio Capilla del Señor in Forbes Park, Makati City.
Members of his family asked reporters on Tuesday not to enter the chapel so they could mourn in private, but issued a statement vowing to leave “no stone unturned and resources untapped” to bring the killers to justice.
Solano, 27, said in a sworn statement on Monday that he found Castillo’s body dumped on a sidewalk at H. Lopez Boulevard and Infanta Street in Manila’s Tondo district after buying a cigarette from a store in the vicinity on Sunday.
He said he flagged down a passing pickup and together with some bystanders, took Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital.
Nothing happened there
But officials of Barangay 133, which has jurisdiction over the intersection, disputed Solano’s account, saying in a statement submitted to the Manila Police District (MPD) on Tuesday that “no traces” of a body were found nor “any incident” happened there on Sunday, going by the village officials’ review of their security camera in the area.
Arnel Rovilla, the village security camera operator, told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday that there should have been a commotion and a large crowd would have gathered if a body had been found in the area.
But nothing unusual happened in the area on Sunday, he said.
Daniel Sayson, a village official, said the usual practice was to take people needing medical attention to the nearest hospital – Tondo General Hospital, less than a kilometer away – not Chinese General Hospitial, which is on Blumentritt Street in Santa Cruz district.
Sayson said there were other hospitals nearer to the village, including Metropolitan Medical Center and Mary Johnston Hospital.
“One thing’s for sure – they’re trying to confuse the investigators,” Sayson said.
Supt. Erwin Margarejo, spokesperson for the MPD, said the authorities were preparing to file perjury charges against Solano, who is also a law student, although police could not say if also in UST.
“When you are under oath, you should tell the truth,” Margarejo said.
He said investigators were also looking into reports from Castillo’s family that an Uber driver, reportedly from UST, dropped off the student’s belongings at his home in Makati City.
“We are having a bit of trouble because requests about the driver should be made by Castillo’s family,” Margarejo said, adding that investigators were working with the family for the submission of a request to talk to the driver to Uber.
If investigation would show that the driver did not come from UST, it would be a “breakthrough,” he said.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into Castillo’s death.
“[Castillo’s] death should impel us to review Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law, toward its strict implementation and refinements as needed. We should not lose our children to untrammeled machismo ending in injury and senseless death,” Zubiri said in a statement.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, whose younger brother Mel died in hazing 41 years ago, underscored the need for “more teeth in our laws and strict enforcement” and vigilance from all sectors to stop hazing, which he called “a painful public menace.”
Sen. Bam Aquino said the government should put an end to the culture of violence in the Philippines, as he urged the strict enforcement of the law against hazing.
Sen. JV Ejercito expressed sadness over the death of Castillo “in the hands of his so-called brothers.”
Sen. Win Gatchalian said UST had responsibility for Castillo’s death, as the university accredited the fraternity. /pdi /atm
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