Family of hazing victim 'Atio' to meet Duterte next week

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2017 04:24 PM | Updated as of Sep 28 2017 05:06 PM

The family of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III meets with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday, a day after the University of Santo Tomas law freshman was buried. Photo courtesy of the Department of Justice

MANILA (UPDATE) - The family of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday to set a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte next week.

In a photograph released by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Aguirre is seen with Castillo's parents Horacio II and Carmina, his sister Nicole, and uncle Gerry Castillo.

“They thanked SOJ (Aguirre) for all the help extended in the investigation. They requested SOJ to help arrange audience with PRRD (Duterte). Request for audience granted through SOJ for Wednesday next week,” Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes told reporters.

Aguirre said the family requested for an audience with the President to make sure that they would get justice for their loved ones' death. 

"Gusto lang nila sigurong humingi ng tulong sa ating Pangulo na sana'y mabigyan sila ng katarungan at hindi magkaroon ng miscarriage of justice," he said.

"Pero sabi ko huwag sila mag-alala dahil mabilis naman takbo ng hearing... Sabi ko kumuha na lang sila kaagaad ng abogado nila pagkat wala pa din silang abogado," he added.

Asked if there are threats to the family's safety, Aguirre said he knows of a threat to one of Castillo's relatives but noted that they have yet to discuss providing possible witness protection.

The DOJ earlier put up a hotline to gather information on Castillo's death and called on those responsible to speak up. 

Castillo, a law freshman at the University of Santo Tomas,
succumbed to heart attack after suffering massive injuries during initiation rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity almost two weeks ago. 

He was rushed to the hospital on the morning of Sept. 17 but was declared dead upon arrival. His family learned of his death before dawn the next day. 

He was laid to rest on Wednesday at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City as his loved ones cried for justice.

On Thursday, John Paul Solano, among primary suspects in the fatal hazing, was released from police custody on orders of the DOJ.

Solano is facing charges of murder, violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 8049 (Anti-Hazing Law), perjury, robbery, and obstruction of justice.

Also charged were 17 other fraternity members and several others yet to be identified. 

Aguirre assured that the release of Solano will not affect the investigation of Castillo's death.

"Hindi naman makakasagabal sa katarungan yung pagpapalaya kay Solano. Okay lang yun dahil yun ang sinasabi ng batas na hindi siya maaring i-detain," he said.

On Wednesday, Jason Robiños, another suspect in the fatal hazing, submitted himself to police and said he had nothing to do with the incident. 

Preliminary investigation hearings on Castillo's case were set on October 4 and 9.