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3 suspects in Horacio’s death hunted


The Manila Police District (MPD) launched yesterday a manhunt against three primary suspects in the death of alleged hazing victim Horacio Castillo III.

MPD director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel identified suspects as John Paul Solano, earlier tagged as the “good Samaritan” who brought Horacio to hospital; and father and son Antonio and Ralph Trangia.

Solano was initially considered witness after claiming that he discovered Castillo’s body wrapped in a blanket in Balut, Tondo in Manila. Barangay officials, however, disputed his statements.

“It was found out that Solano deliberately and intentionally gave false statements to the MPD in the course of this investigation,” Coronel said.

“He claimed he only found the body of the victim on the early hours of Sept. 17 and brought him to the hospital when in fact, Solano knew the victim even before the death of Castillo.”

Solano, Coronel said, has been confirmed to be a law student of UST and a member of the Aegis Juris fraternity.

Coronel presented to the media a closed circuit television (CCTV) footage showing Solano with Castillo and other alleged fraternity brothers walking along Dapitan Street in UST around11:45 a.m. on Saturday, a day before the victim was declared dead on arrival at Chinese General Hospital.

Castillo told his parents that he would attend an overnight fraternity welcome party and would be home by Sunday morning. He was found by his family at a funeral home with hematoma and candle drips before dawn Monday.

Police also showed the media the photo of Solano when he gave his initial testimony to MPD and a photo of him wearing Aegis Juris fraternity shirt.

The red Mitsubishi Strada with plate number ZTV 539, which was reportedly used in bringing Castillo to the hospital, was found to be registered under one Antonio Trangia, father of Ralph, an Aegis Juris official.

Coronel however said that it was not clear who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.

“Solano, with the assistance and cooperation of the Trangias deliberately misled our investigation by providing us false and fraudulent statements, which we feel was a cover up for the actual killing and murder of Castillo, which is why they are now considered suspects,” Coronel said.

Coronel added that all the eight officials of the Aegis Juris fraternity enrolled this semester are also considered suspects.

“The anti-hazing law provides that officers of frats or organizations are to be held liable in incidents like this because there is a possibility that even if they are not present (in the hazing rites), they have participation or knowledge in the recruitment and hazing,” he said.

UST law faculty and even fraternity alumni who may have participated in the hazing or cover up of the incident may also be held as co-conspirators, accomplices, accessories, or even liable for obstruction of justice, according to Coronel.

The MPD chief also said they already have strong and solid leads on the identity of other suspects, but they cannot release it yet pending follow-up investigation.

“We are following up these leads and hopefully, may positive developments,” he said.

Coronel, while thankful for the full cooperation of the UST administration in providing them information, requested the university to allow again the fraternity members inside the university premises to facilitate investigation.

He said they had difficult time in gathering information when they went to UST because the dean of Faculty of Civil Law, lawyer Nilo Divina, issued an order suspending Aegis Juris fraternity members from entering the school premises to ensure “unobstructed investigation.”

“We requested the UST admin to allow students to present themselves to us. To those who may have knowledge or information relating to the hazing and death of Castillo,” he said.