UST not liable in fatal hazing, says law dean

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2017 11:08 AM | Updated as of Sep 29 2017 11:50 AM

MANILA - The University of Sto. Tomas is not liable for the hazing death of law freshman Horacio Castillo III, a school official said Friday.

The Aegis Jvris fraternity, which Castillo was supposed to join, was not recognized by the school and the fatal activity happened outside their premises, said UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.

"I don’t think UST is liable because the test is ‘did you measure up to the standards of a good father of a family?’" he told ANC's Early Edition.

"We have a very strict policy against hazing—that policy is part of our manual, and annual orientations are conducted to all students. Organizations that apply for accreditation are required to undertake that they will engage in any form of hazing," Divina said.

"The incident happened outside the university. Lastly, the fraternity is not recognized for this year...Even assuming that it is recognized, the fact is - it is required to undertake that it will not engage in hazing. Recognition doesn’t mean approval of any unlawful acts," he added.

Castillo, 22, died due to massive injuries consistent with hazing, according to an autopsy report. He was rushed to the Chinese General Hospital early Sunday, but was declared dead upon arrival.

Divina, a member of the Aegis Jvris fraternity, said he did not know of Castillo's death until it came out in the news.

He said their faculty secretary received a report regarding the death of a student on Sunday afternoon. By evening, their only confirmed information was that the student's name was Castillo.

"We did check further, but unfortunately, the offices are closed. I asked the secretary to get the full name and the address so we can reach out to the parents, but those data were not available," he said.

Divina said the school has put up an independent committee to investigate, as he noted that the fraternity was "required to inform school authorities if they will do hazing," but no such notice was submitted to UST.

"If there was hazing and no notice was given to the school authorities is a violation of the law," he said.

MULLING RESIGNATION FROM THE FRAT

After he was thrust into the limelight due to the fatal hazing, Divina said he is "seriously considering" resigning from the fraternity.

"It's contrary to what I believe in, contrary to what I stand for. I'm a man of peace, I'm against violence, I attend mass everyday. I'm thinking seriously of resigning to express my feelings, my stand against violence," he said.

But Divina, claiming he has received overwhelming support from his peers and administrators, did not categorically answer if he will step down from being the dean of the law school.

"I am committed to helping the barristers to do well to do well in the bar examinations. I am committed to helping the students graduate law," he said.

"You can ask around and I am confident that I have the support of the students, the faculty, and the administration. What makes me cry (were) not the challenges, the difficulties, but the overwhelming support that I see from students, faculty, former students, incumbent students," he added.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have begun their legislative probe into Castillo's death as they look to amend or repeal the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995. Preliminary investigation hearings on the case were also set on October 4 and 9.