Arrest orders out against suspects in Atio hazing
A Manila Regional Trial Court judge on Thursday approved the issuance of arrest warrants for 10 Aegis Juris fraternity members accused of involvement in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio Castillo III.
“Upon the personal evaluation of the resolution of the [Department of Justice] panel of prosecutors, as well as all the supporting evidence on record, this court finds probable cause and that there is a necessity for placing all the accused under custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice,” Manila RTC Branch 40 Judge Alfredo Ampuan said.
“Accordingly, let a warrant of arrest be issued against [the] accused,” Ampuan said in an 11-page ruling.
The warrants are to be issued against Mhin Wei Chan, Jose Miguel Salamat, John Robin Ramos, Marcelino Bagtang Jr., Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali and Hans Matthew Rodrigo.
Hazing is a nonbailable offense which carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua.
Castillo was in his first year of law school at UST when he died while undergoing hazing rites at the Aegis Juris library in Sampaloc, Manila, on Sept. 17 last year.
After several months of deliberating on the case, DOJ prosecutors issued a resolution on March 6 recommending the filing of charges against the 10 respondents for violation of Republic Act No. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.
Their findings were based on the testimony of Marc Anthony Ventura, a fraternity member present during the hazing rites, who has been placed under the government’s witness protection program.
The DOJ panel cleared 10 other Aegis Juris members—including UST Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina—due to insufficiency of evidence.
But it ordered the filing of charges for perjury and obstruction of justice against John Paul Solano, another Aegis Juris member and former UST student, who initially claimed in the police investigation that he only chanced upon Castillo’s body in Tondo but later admitted that he was called by his fraternity brothers to administer first-aid on the unconscious victim and was among those who brought him to Chinese General Hospital.
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