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Fratmen told to keep mum on Horacio’s death

By JEFFREY G. DAMICOG, with reports from Jaimie Rose Aberia, Jun Ramirez

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed yesterday that members of the Aeris Juris fraternity are being restrained by their senior officers from reporting what they know about the initiation rites that led to the death of University of Sto. Tomas law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Aguirre said two possible witnesses, who have been communicating with him, claimed that six fraternity members are currently being held by the senior members of Aegis Juris.

“Ang sabi sa amin senior members of the frat ayaw sila palabasin, ayaw pagsalitain at invoke na code of silence,” the secretary said.

Aguirre bared that one of the two possible witness met him in his office Wednesday night. The man claimed that he was invited by Aegis Juris but turned it down.

The second potential witness is a member of the fraternity whom Aguirre has not personally met but has been in touch with him through his mobile phone.

“Hind pa rin na gpapa-ilalim sa WPP sapagkat natatakot sila at may banta sa kanilang buhay,” Aguirre told reporters.

Aside from the two, Aguirre said he was also informed that another fraternity member is also sending surrender feelers to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

On the other hand, Aguirre said not everyone would be accommodated in the WPP as it is offered on a “first come, first serve” basis.

“Sapagkat hindi kailangan ng madami testigo,” Aguirre added.

Based on what he learned from the two individuals, Aguirre said the initiation rites was done by batches and Castillo was the only person during the initiation rites held over the last weekend.

“Porket solo kaya pinagdiskitahan nung initiation rites,” he said.

The DoJ chief asked witnesses not to heed the advice of those preventing them from coming out.

“They should fear more the ones hiding them or the ones advising them not to come out. They can be dangerous people with hidden agenda,” he warned.

They can trust us, they have nothing to fear from us,” the secretary assured.

With this, Aguirre has formed a hotline where witnesses can contact the Department of Justice (DoJ) if they intend to step forward.

Called DOJHoracio hotline, witnesses can contact the mobile number 0995 442 9241.

“I ask them to come out and tell the truth and we will protect them under the WPP,” Aguirre said.

He has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe on the death of Castillo.

Sixteen members of the Aegis Juris fraternity have been placed in the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) on Sept. 20.

They are Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Marc Anthony Ventura, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshuo Joriel Macabali, Jason Adolfo Robinos, Ralph Trangia, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Carl Matthew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bactang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat, and John Paul Solano.

Of the mentioned individuals, Trangia managed to slip out of the country. The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said he slipped out of the country and go to Taipei, Taiwan, on Sept. 19, and later proceeded to the United States.

Aguirre assured the NBI will coordinate with the International Police Organization (Interpol) to locate Trangia and, after which, he will ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel his passport.

Investigators said Castillo was brought Sunday morning to the Chinese General Hospital already dead by John Paul Solano, a member of the fraternity, using a red Mitsubishi Strada with plate number ZTV-539.

The vehicle was found registered to Trangia’s father Antonio.

Solano and the two Trangias have been considered by police investigators as primary suspects in the case.

Police also asked the DoJ to also include Antonio Trangia in the ILBO.

Meanwhile, Facebook page “Hustisya Para Kay Horacio” uploaded alleged exchange of conversation among members of Aegis Juris fraternity.

One “Axel” announced that a fraternity rites will be held for neophytes at 9 p.m. at “FL.”

“Good afternoon brods! Sa mga sasama sa fr (fraternity rites) ng neo, call time sa FL is 9pm,” the message read.

One Arvin replied and said that “Major frat activity to brods.”

The conversation showed that they initially planned to hold the rites in Bulacan where one Galicia will be holding a party, but they later changed their mind for fear that there might be a lot of people.

“Baka sumabit tayo dun. Madami ka ata bisita e,” Jayar said.

On Sunday, 9:11 a.m., Axel asked for the number of Popoy, saying that there was an emergency.

Other Facebook users in the conversation are Lennert Bryan, Kim Cyril, Hans, and Popoy.

The uploader believes that the neophyte referred to in the conversation was Castillo.

While thankful for the information, Manila Police District (MPD) Spokesperson Erwin Margarejo said they still have to follow processes involving cyber evidence.

In a related development, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that other persons tagged by police as possible suspects in the killing of Castillo will no longer be able to leave the country.

BI spokesperson lawyer Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said the individuals who were subjects of an immigration ILBO should present an allow departure order from the DoJ if they would attempt to leave the country.