‘We want to know the truth,’ parents of Atio Castillo plead at Senate hearing
“We want to know the truth about what happened that night.”
Horacio Jr. and Carmina Castillo made this appeal on Monday night at the Senate hearing on the death of their 22-year-old son, Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, allegedly due to injuries suffered after being subjected to hazing by some members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.
It was during the hearing, conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, that the Castillos faced for the first time John Paul Solano, one of the primary suspects in case, and officials of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law, where their son was a freshman student.
Nilo Divina, the dean of the law school, was also present at the hearing.
“We stand before this committee to find answers for the brutal murder of our only son Atio,” Mr. Castillo said, adding that his family would be “forever tormented” by the thought that fraternity had invited their son only to treat him like an animal.
He said the culprits behind their son’s death only informed the family of the tragedy on Sept. 18, a day later.
“We want to know the truth of what happened that night and every detail so we can leave his final hours with him and let him know that he is not alone,” he added.
Giving a more detailed account of his involvement in the incident, Solano said a fraternity member had called him up at around 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 17 asking him to go to the fraternity library in UST, without telling him the reason.
He was “in the comfort of his bed” when he received the call, Solano told the committee.
It was only on the second call, at around 7:10 a.m., that he was told that “someone collapsed.”
When he arrived at the fraternity library, he saw the victim lying on the floor.
Solano, a registered medical technologist, checked Castillo’s pupils and hi pulse.
“When I checked the pulse I didn’t hear [sic] anything,” Solano said.
He performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and eventually advised the group to bring the victim to the hospital.
When asked why he took Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital instead of the UST Hospital, which was nearer, Solano said: “They just told me to follow them to Chinese General Hospital.”
As to why he lied in his earlier statement that he found the dying Castillo on a sidewalk in Tondo, Solano told the committee that he was instructed to do so by a frat member, which he said he would name in his affidavit.
Solano turned himself to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, committe chairman, on Sept. 22, days after Castillo’s death. Lacson then turned him over to Chief Supt. Joel Cruz, chief of the the Manila Police District.
During Monday’s Senate hearing, Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. admitted that Solano should not have been subjected to inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Quizzed by Sen. Franklin Drilon, the DOJ top prosecutor agreed with Drilon’s observation that individuals who had voluntarily turned themselves in to authorities should undergo the regular preliminary investigation.
An inquest is a summary investigation conducted by state prosecutors to determine the criminal liability of a person accused of committing a crime.
“That would not be proper,” Catalan said in response to Drilon’s query if an inquest was appropriate regarding the murder complaint filed by the police against Solano and 17 others.
Taking his cue from Catalan’s remarks, Solano’s lawyer, Paterno Esmaquel, repeated that his client should be freed immediately and that he should undergo preliminary investigation because he was not arrested.
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