By: Jeffrey G. Damicog
The Department of Justice (DoJ) began yesterday its preliminary investigation into the death of hazing victim Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III.
During the hearing at the DoJ, Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, who chairs the panel of prosecutors handling the case, gave the complainants more time to submit supplemental complaints and additional documentary evidence next Monday (October 9).
After which, Villanueva said the respondents have until October 24 to file their respective counter-affidavits in response to the accusations against them.
Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, legal counsel for Castillo family, told the panel that they are considering including in the complaint University Sto. Tomas (UST) Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina and other school officials.
Kapunan said she also intends to file before the panel a transcript of the Senate hearings on the incident, pointing out that Senators have voiced the liability of university officials.
Lawyer Rico Betic, counsel of the Manila Police District (MPD), said they will also submit this Monday the sworn affidavits of witnesses and additional evidence which include records of phone activities provided by telecommunications companies and the results of the DNA tests conducted by police at the Aegis Juris fraternity library where the initiation rites of Atio was held.
Lawyer Paterno Esmaquel, counsel for the respondents and Aegis Juris fratman John Paul Solano, also filed before the panel a motion to strike out the judicial affidavit of Solano dated September 17.
Esmaquel explained the judicial affidavit was signed by Senior Inspector Rommel Anicete to make it appear that it was subscribed before the police official when, in fact, he was not present that day.
Last September 25, the MPD filed criminal complaints before the DoJ against 18 persons believed involved in the Aegis Juris fraternity initiation rites which led to the death of the 22-year-old UST law student.
Apart from Solano, those named respondents were Ralph Trangia, Trangia’s parents Antonio and Rosemarie, Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Ranie Refael Santiago, Olier John Audrey Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robinos, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Matthew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, and Jose Miguel Salamat.
Among the respondents, Salamat, Onofre, and Rodrigo failed to appear nor sent any counsel at the hearing.
The respodents have been accused of murder, perjury, robbery, obstruction of justice, and violation of Republic Act 8049, the Anti-Hazing Law.
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