MANILA (UPDATE)—A Manila court has denied the bail plea of 10 Aegis Juris fraternity members accused of hazing to death University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in Sept. 2017.
Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali junked the petition for bail filed by Arvin Balag, head of the fraternity at the time, and 9 others implicated in the crime, finding that “the evidence of guilt of each of the accused [is] strong.”
Besides Balag, the other accused are: Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose Miguel Salamat, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo and Marcelino Bagtang, Jr.
The court found that all of them were present during the fraternity’s final rites, with some of them, officers of the fraternity, citing the testimony of Mark Ventura, a fraternity brother.
“It was also established by the prosecution that accused Hipe, Trangia, Balag delivered blows on the victim using a paddle, others were identified to have delivered blows on the arms of the victim,” the court said in a 56-page order dated Dec. 10, 2019, made public only on Friday.
“It was also established that the herein victim was subjected to physical injuries and died by reason hereof,” it added.
The 10 accused are facing a hazing charge under Republic Act 8049, which carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison if the hazing resulted to death.
In its ruling, the court said Castillo was subjected to physical exercises, his arms were hit, was punched, and was made to sing and dance, drink raw egg yolk, take off his underwear and crawl during the initiation rites on Sept. 17, 2017 in the fraternity’s library in Manila.
Castillo, who was the sole applicant at that time, was hit by the paddle 5 times before he fell to the ground unconscious.
John Paul Solano, a fraternity member who brought Castillo to the hospital, was convicted by another Manila court in June 2019 for obstruction of justice and sentenced to up to 4 years and 2 months in prison after he initially claimed he found Castillo’s body on the sidewalk.
Medical findings cited by the court show Castillo died due to “severe blunt traumatic injuries” on “both upper limbs” and ruled out having an enlarged heart as the cause of death, as the medical experts presented by the accused argued.
“The Court finds that the legal and proximate cause of the victim’s death was the physical injuries or physical suffering inflicted to him by his prospective brods. The severe physical injuries sustained by the victim was a natural and foreseeable consequence. The victim would not have died had he not suffered nay inflicted the severe blunt physical injuries,” the court said.
“Even if the victim is suffering from an internal ailment, liver or heart disease or tuberculosis if the blow delivered by the accused (a) is the efficient cause of death or (b) accelerated his death or (c) is the proximate cause of death thus there is criminal liability."
'GOOD THINGS WILL COME'
The court, however, has yet to render a verdict on the accused as the matter pending before the court is only their petition for bail.
Meanwhile, the Castillo family welcomed the court's decision to dismiss the bail petition.
"It proves that hazing occurred and Atio died of severe physical injuries and not of a medical condition," Castillo's mother, Carmina, said in a statement.
"The resolution also stated that the evidence of guilt for each of the 10 accused is strong which we believe."
Also in response to the court decision, Castillo's father, Horacio Jr., said in a poem that the accused will not get away with what happened to his son.
"They will not get away without a big fight. There is work to be done. In the year 2020, hopefully good things will come," he said.
Horacio Castillo III, Atio, hazing, UST, University of Santo Tomas, Aegis Juris, bail, Manila, RTC