Poe urges UST dean to go on leave amid hazing death probe
Senator Grace Poe has asked lawyer Nilo Divina to go on leave as dean of the University of Santo Tomas’ Faculty of Civil Law while the investigation on the death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III is ongoing.
“You’re the dean and we have a very important criminal investigation that’s ongoing. I wouldn’t say you’re front and center, but definitely a figure that’s looming large, but giving it a few months is a sacrifice on your part,” Poe said.
The Senate committee on public order has resumed its investigation on the death of Castillo who allegedly died during initiation rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity last Sept. 17.
Poe insisted that Divina’s position as dean would be a conflict of interest, given that he is a member of the fraternity involved in Castillo’s death.
“You can still continue lecturing but holding a position of power as dean, I believe, can compromise and can even scare away certain Aegis Juris members. I think it’s a conflict of interest as dean as being subject of investigation,” Poe said.
“Baka matakot ang ibang members na baka kapag nagsalita ako kahit wala akong parte sa hazing biglang bumagsak ako, this is my opinion but I think the UST board should be able to come up with a resolution placing you first on leave,” she added.
Divina, however, insisted on holding on to his post despite the series of controversies that has been hounding him.
Divina said the incident involving Aegis Juris members did not have a bearing on his competence as college dean, as a professor and as an academician.
“I can’t abandon my students especially the barristers preparing for bar exams. I have the support of students, alumni association, and the faculty and despite what’s happening to my life one after the other. I’ve not missed a lecture, except for the Wednesday hearing but I made up for it. I don’t think my dedication, my commitment to teaching has changed because of this,” Divina said.
Divina also stressed that he had not given any special preference to Aegis Juris members in his college
“Four of Aegis Juris heads were debarred during my time. They’ve been suspended preventively. I’ve been a dean to everyone regardless of affiliation. I never played favorites. I’ve maintained my neutrality,” he said.
Aside from Castillo’s death, Divina is facing a disbarment complaint after the Patricia Bautista, the estranged wife of Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista, accused the Divina law firm of giving Bautista referral fees in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. /cbb
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