2 Tau Gamma hazings now probed; frat man suicide bared
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has linked 10 more members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity to the fatal hazing of Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig and six others from the same brotherhood to the hazing death two months earlier of University of Cebu (UC) student Ronnel Baguio.
The police also disclosed on Friday that one “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation of the Salilig case died by suicide 10 days after the 24-year-old chemistry student’s death.
Biñan City police chief Lt. Col. Virgilio Jopia told reporters on Friday that the 26-year-old encoder identified only as Sakmal, an Adamson alumnus and member of Tau Gamma’s Adamson chapter, was found dead by his father in his apartment in Taguig City on February 28.
It was also on that day that the authorities and Salilig’s family recovered his battered and naked body in a shallow grave in Imus City, Cavite provinces.
READ: Death by ‘brotherhood’: Family, university in grief
Police learned that Salilig’s body was transferred from a Ford Everest car to a Hyundai Tucson, two of three vehicles in a convoy that was headed toward Manila from Biñan. Sakmal drove the third car, a Mitsubishi Adventure.
The car carrying Salilig’s body made its way to Imus on February 18, a day after the student was last seen by his elder brother John Martin.
A Tau Gamma member cooperating in the investigation led police to the site where Salilig was buried. Another fraternity member identified only as Sting had surrendered to Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla on Thursday and admitted that he was among those who buried Salilig’s body in a vacant lot in Barangay Malagasang I-G.
In Cebu City, Police Lt. Col. Maria Theresa Macatangay, information officer of the city police office, said the six Tau Gamma members liable for Baguio’s death included a university professor who recruited the student but claimed that he did not participate in the December 10, 2022 hazing.
READ: PAO bares another fatal hazing of engineering student in Cebu
They will be charged with murder and violation of Republic Act No. 8049, or the antihazing law, in the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office next week, she said.
“Despite the professor’s claim, we will still file charges against him, and once he will be charged, we will ask the court to make him a state witness,” Macatangay said.
10 more named
The regional police office that includes Laguna province where Salilig was severely beaten up by his fraternity brothers during “welcoming” rites, released on Thursday night the names of the 10 other Tau Gamma members who were allegedly responsible for the student’s death on February 18. Police Brig. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr., Calabarzon regional commander, identified them as Lalan Hernandez, Christian Cruz, Earl Miguel Queaño Ursolino, Daniel Perry, Ralph Tan, Ryan Ray Camangyan, Carlos Miguel Rovillos, Aron James Cruz, Lester John De Lara Sus and Arjay Bryle Arao.
On Thursday morning, six Tau Gamma members—Tung Cheng Teng Jr., the “Grand Triskelion,” or leader of Tau Gamma Adamson chapter; Earl Anthony Romero; Jerome Balot; Sandro Victorino; Michael Lambert Ritalde; and Mark Pedrosa —were brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila for inquest proceedings.
READ: 17 face raps in Adamson student’s hazing death
The PNP had filed a complaint of two counts of violation of the antihazing law against Teng’s group.
They were arrested on Wednesday in Biñan, Laguna province, where the hazing occurred.
“To the at-large suspects, you better surrender because the claws of justice will reach you in no time,” Nartatez warned.
Two more men who also underwent “welcoming” rites along with Salilig are set to surface and cooperate with the police to strengthen the case against the fraternity members who violated the antihazing law, the police said.
The two Adamson students were only identified through their fraternity codenames “Lee” and “Bin Laden.” They were to meet investigators on Friday, Jopia said in an interview with ANC.
The Biñan police now has custody of 10 Tau Gamma members—seven from Adamson chapter and three from Biñan chapter.
Six of them were those who underwent inquest in Manila.
The Cebu City police said Baguio, 20, was from Bataan province and was residing in Barangay Mambaling while studying marine engineering at UC.
READ: Remulla orders NBI to probe fatal hazing of another student in Cebu
Investigators said he underwent initiation rites on December 10, 2022. Eight days later, he called his mother, Leny, in Bataan to complain that he felt dizzy, had shortness of breath, and vomiting.
His mother immediately flew to Cebu but her son had already died at Cebu City Medical Center on December 19, 2022.
Medical records showed that he died due to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome from indirect lung injury.
City police chief Col. Ireneo Dalogdog on Thursday said the police were not able to file a case against the suspects since Baguio’s mother did not return to Cebu.
READ: Police find witnesses for Cebu hazing incident, prepare charges
“If possible, the parents could come back here to file the case,” he said.
The death of Baguio was announced at a press conference on Thursday by Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta after his mother sought her assistance.
In Zamboanga City, Salilig’s hometown, his family announced that he and his 86-year-old grandfather, who died of multiple organ failure on February 22, will be buried at Forest Lake Memorial Park on Saturday morning.
“My father adored Matt-Matt. Being the youngest among the seven siblings, all the love was showered on him, he was pampered by his grandfather,” said Jeoffrey Salilig, Matthew’s father.
“Now as the two buddies are leaving us forever, we always pray for strength. We are mourning, we are grieving but I know we will go through this storm we are experiencing at the moment,” he said.
Salilig’s body was flown to Zamboanga on a military plane on Thursday.
An autopsy found that he died due to “severe blunt force trauma to the lower extremities.” His body was mangled from his chest down to his thighs.
His father said that the family, their friends and supporters will fight for justice until all those responsible for his death are thrown into prison.
“After this, whatever the progress of the case, we will actively participate (in seeking justice). We will focus on the case. This is what we want, that justice will prevail for my son and for others who died of hazing,” his father said on Friday.
He was grateful to President Marcos and other leaders who vowed to help the family in their quest for justice.
“I hope and pray the President will really work hard regarding (the implementation of) this law on hazing. We don’t want to have more victims, hopefully, Matt Matt is the last,” he said.
“We pray that there will be no whitewash in this case,” he added.
CHR to help
Daniel Paculanang of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 9, said the agency will help in the investigation.
In a statement on Thursday, the CHR condemned hazing “as a ritualistic act of humiliation and degradation.”
It said Salilig’s tragic death was “a loss that should never have happened.”
“It is a clear violation of the victim’s human rights and a failure of those responsible for their safety and welfare,” it said.
READ: CHR sets probe into Adamson student’s alleged hazing death
One more respondent in the Salilig case has surrendered to the authorities, raising the number of suspects in custody to seven, according to Justice Undersecretary Mico Clavano.
He did not identify the seventh respondent, a Tau Gamma member.
Clavano said counteraffidavits will be filed on March 10 and on the same day a full-blown preliminary investigation will proceed.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE ALIPALA AND JACOB LAZARO
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