Whatever happened to…?
Seven suspects who were allegedly involved in the death of San Beda law freshman Marvin Reglos have yet to be issued warrants of arrest a year after the gruesome case of fraternity hazing hogged the headlines.
Two of those charged with murder—Eric Castillo and Bodjie Yap—remain detained at the Rizal Provincial Jail and are awaiting the resolution to their petition for bail.
Reglos, 25, was brought to the Unciano Medical Center in Antipolo, Rizal, in the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2012, and was pronounced dead on arrival from injuries allegedly sustained during a fraternity hazing rites in an Antipolo resort.
The victim, who wore a shirt bearing the name “Lambda Rho Beta,” bore bruises all over his body and an injury in the nape.
The group of men who brought him to the hospital reportedly left in a rush. Minutes later, however, Castillo and Yap, both law students from San Sebastian College, aroused suspicions when they inquired about Reglos’ condition.
Police arrested Castillo and Yap for inquest proceedings, and investigators later seized identification cards showing their membership in Lambda Rho Beta (LRB) Fraternity.
Suspicious text messages
They also found in their cell phones suspicious text messages in Filipino: “News blackout, don’t forget. Erase all messages on your phone regarding the initiation. Don’t answer if asked to name your officers.”
Another message read: “Nobody talks. That’s the order. Erase all messages ASAP. Even this one. You must all obey.”
On Feb. 22, 2012, based on evidence gathered from the inquest proceedings, the Antipolo City Prosecution Office charged both Castillo and Yap with murder in relation to the Anti-Hazing Law, a nonbailable offense.
Both pleaded not guilty in their arraignment.
Pressed for their group’s alleged involvement, LRB issued a statement pledging full cooperation in the parallel investigations of the Antipolo City Police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
A cofounder of LRB’s sister sorority, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also vowed an “honest to goodness” investigation of her “brods.”
In the course of the police investigation, two LRB neophytes who underwent the initiation with Reglos reportedly showed up at the Department of Justice to shed light on the case.
Police also said the security guard at the Guillean’s Place resort in Barangay San Roque, where the hazing allegedly took place, positively identified LRB members through photos shown to him.
Police added that after some verification, they were able to confirm that the red Honda City that brought Reglos to the hospital was traced to the father of LRB leader Eduardo Escobal II.
In March 2012, both Castillo and Yap filed a petition for bail in Antipolo Regional Trial Court Branch 97 under Judge Miguel Asuncion, arguing that their guilt is not strong so as to deprive them of their right to bail.
In the same month, the NBI disclosed that based on a check made by the bureau, members of another fraternity stayed at Guillean’s Place. It added that one of the suspects—Christian Adobo—said he was neither a Lambda Rho member nor a San Beda student.
But the camp of Reglos dismissed the NBI findings, saying the bureau was just muddling the case built by the police.
Then Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said he and De Lima agreed that the Antipolo City Police would be in charge of building the case against the suspects. He added that Adobo’s claim was probably a mere diversionary ploy to cover the fraternity’s tracks.
On June 4, 2012, after giving weight to evidence presented by the police, assistant city prosecutor Christian Banggui found probable cause against Escobal and alleged members Adobo, Kevin Jordan Mendoza, Norman Espinoza, Marco Antonio Ampil, Kevin Brian Pe, Israel Cruz and Margrien Archenar Gregana.
Escobal, however, reportedly died from a severe asthma attack in October and had to be removed from the charge sheet, bringing the number of the accused to nine.
No arrest warrant yet
No warrant of arrest has been issued against the seven others included in the charge sheet.
Between April and September, the Antipolo RTC Branch 97 conducted 12 hearings on Castillo and Yap’s petition for bail.
Last December, the court ordered both the defense and prosecution to file their memorandum in relation to the petition, which they submitted on Jan. 21 and Feb. 4, respectively. Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research
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