DOJ offers protection to witnesses in UST fatal hazing


Posted at Sep 22 2017 10:30 AM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has offered protection to the witnesses to the death of Horacio Castillo III, a freshman law student allegedly killed in fraternity hazing rites over the weekend, a justice department official said Friday.

The witnesses may be placed under the Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program, said Usec. Erickson Balmes:

"If they want to tell the truth or clear their names they can come to my office and we will place them under the WPP. They can trust us, they have nothing to fear from us," he said in a statement.

"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. I ask them to come out and tell the truth and we will protect them under the WPP," he added.

Castillo, 22, died due to massive injuries consistent with hazing, according to an autopsy report.

His body was allegedly found dumped in a street in Tondo, Manila. The student was brought to the Chinese General Hospital by one John Paul Solano, but was discovered already lifeless.

Castillo's family found his body at the hospital early Monday after receiving a tip from an anonymous text message.

Solano is now considered a primary suspect in the killing, and 15 other members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity were placed under an immigration lookout bulletin.

UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, who founded the Aegis Jvris fraternity, promised the Castillo family that justice would be served as he lifted the suspension against the fraternity members to allow them to fully cooperate with investigations.

Apart from police probe, the Senate is also set to launch an investigation into the incident on Monday as Castillo's death revived calls for stronger legislation against violent initiation rites.