MANILA - One of the suspects in the hazing death of UST law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo has returned to the Philippines Tuesday after weeks of staying in the United States amid a police manhunt.
Aegis Jvris member Ralph Trangia arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at around 11:40 a.m., onboard EVA Air BR271. He traveled from the US to the Philippines through Taipei in a connecting flight.
The suspect arrived with his mother, Rosemarie, who was with him in Chicago. They were welcomed by airport security personnel and men from the Manila Police District.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office earlier said Trangia flew to Chicago through Taiwan on a transit flight from Manila on September 19.
Red Marinas, head of the Bureau of Immigration Port Operations Division, earlier told ABS-CBN News that the Interpol office in the U.S. relayed to their office details of Trangia's return to Manila.
He said Trangia opted for a voluntary return after the government reportedly planned to revoke his passport after he was tagged in the death of Castillo.
In a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the return of Trangia is a welcome development in the case of Atio. The DOJ said they will assess if Trangia can be a potential witness, depending on what he will tell the investigators.
"While he may be a suspect as of the moment, depending on what he will tell our investigators, he could be a potential witness. And for this reason, the DOJ offers to him and to his family, the protection of our Witness Protection Program," said Justice Secretary Aguirre.
Trangia, a University of Santo Tomas law student, along with several other suspects, are facing charges for murder, robbery, and the violation of the anti-hazing law.
An autopsy report from the Manila Police District concluded that Atio, a 22-year-old freshman, died of heart attack due to "massive injury" from hazing.
Castillo, described by his relatives as a "humble kid with big dreams, was laid to rest on September 27.
Also facing charges in connection with Atio's death are UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina and trustees of Aegis Jvris Foundation.
Divina, an Aegis Jvris fratman "on leave," told a Senate inquiry that he already talked to the student's parents and vowed to help them find justice.
Part-time medical technologist John Paul Solano, another primary suspect and also an Aegis Jvris member, has already been released after being detained for 7 days.
Solano denied his participation in the hazing. He said he rushed Castillo to the hospital Sunday morning after being called by fraternity brothers to give the neophyte first aid.
Meanwhile, another Aegis Jvris fratman, whose name has been withheld, gave his statement to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding Castillo's death Friday afternoon.