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Life after Aegis?

By: Jullie Y. Daza

NILO T. Divina, dean of the UST faculty of Civil Law and head of a law firm of 60 attorneys working for top-shot clients, is in the crosshairs of personalities in the news. Lorna Kapunan wants him disbarred along with 20 of his lawyers for allegedly paying a referral fee to the Comelec chairman. The parents of Horacio Castillo III are suing him for murder as an accomplice in their son’s hazing death. The two cases, though not related, are concurrent.

When he faced us girls to ventillate his side – allegedly because media “plays up” the negatives – he immediately recognized me as a fellow-Thomasian. (This is my way of disclosing to the reader my UST roots, albeit of an older generation.)

My initial questions were UST-centered. What did Fr. Rector Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., say to you? Dean Divina: “He told me, pray.” Has UST suspended or kicked out any frat member? “The office of civil affairs has created an independent commission. But during the eight years of my deanship, I debarred four frat leaders for academic deficiencies and frat-related violence. At the start of this schoolyear, I banned all frat recruitments.” On the good-news side, he sent all 96 UST passers to Hong Kong as a reward last summer.

In the Castillo case, the dean finds it unfair that he is now the bad guy after he convinced suspect John Paul Solano to surrender. As an aside: “Why did he have to lie about finding the body on the street, when he could have simply told the truth.”

He rued that this is the first time that UST Law has figured in a fatal hazing. Hazing or no hazing, students bright and not so bright are drawn to the mystique of secret societies that give them the “open sesame” leading to a successful practice. Yes, he agreed, “hazing should be banned.”

Just between us girls, in the search for bright students, the Divina law firm subsidizes scholars to the tune of P6 million contributed by his UST salary (P1.2 million annually) and the donations of clients and friends.

For now, “having distanced myself” from Aegis Juris, Dean Divina renders this free, pro bono advice to his young nonclients: “Attend the hearings. Apologize, a life has been taken. Spend time in jail and reflect. There’s life after the frat.”