DOJ to resolve cases on 'Atio' hazing death by mid-February

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2018 04:24 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday it intends to release by mid-February the results of its preliminary investigation into criminal complaints over the alleged hazing death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio "Atio" Castillo III in September last year.

The commitment was contained in a January 29 case status update by the 3-member panel handling various complaints separately filed by Castillo's parents and the Manila Police District against several suspects.

Upon release of its resolution, it would be known whether or not the DOJ would find probable cause to indict the accused, including members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity.

The panel is chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, with Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado as members. 

The panel earlier terminated the preliminary investigation but it was reopened on Jan. 12 upon the delayed receipt of Aegis Jvris fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura 's statement on the case.

Ventura was admitted into the department's Witness Protection Program (WPP) after promising to reveal what he knew about Castillo's hazing on Sept. 17, 2017 at the fraternity library in Sampaloc, Manila. 

The fratman, who admitted he was present during the rites, claimed members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity did not immediately rush Castillo to a hospital when he collapsed and became unresponsive following initiation rites.

Ventura identified members who took turns in inflicting physical pain on Castillo and narrated the latter's final moments. 

Close to 40 respondents are now awaiting their fate over their alleged complicity in the Castillo case.

The 22-year-old UST student was declared dead upon arrival at the Chinese General Hospital on Sept. 17, 2017 after allegedly going through fatal hazing rites in the hands of Aegis Jvris fraternity members.

His death spurred moves to strengthen anew the anti-hazing law.