MANILA - Members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity who supposedly tried to cover up the death of law freshman Horacio Castillo during violent initiation rites acted like a "criminal syndicate," a lawmaker investigating the slay said Monday.
Law student-members who attended the hearing of Senate committee on public order have invoked their right against self-incrimination, and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said they may "have been told what to do" by their senior frat-brothers who are lawyers.
"I’m just shocked at how they’re trying to cover this whole thing up. These are future lawyers," he told ANC's Headstart.
Zubiri said he was "appalled" at the message thread among frat members read during last week's hearing, which allegedly occurred from September 17 to 18, immediately after Castillo's death.
"Parang sindikato, they’re acting like a criminal syndicate, reminiscent of drug syndicates and triads," said Zubiri.
"Kung ganito po ang nangyayari sa mga lawyers, I feel sad for the law profession. You take an oath to uphold the law, to defend the law and the defenseless; and here you are, trying to cover everything up," he added.
Aegis Jvris member Jose Miguel Salamat, in the chat thread, said he has Castillo's phone and it has already received a barrage of calls and messages from the 22-year-old's parents.
Another member, lawyer Alston Kevin Anarna, said the Castillo family is quite well-off and may be able to get a search warrant for the frat library. "Sana malinis na, matanggal na ang paddle doon," he said.
A certain Ronald Cheng, who is supposedly working at the Supreme Court Clerk of Court's 2nd division, was also part of the conversation, saying he has seen where the CCTV is installed near the library, and that it doesn’t cover the area.
Zubiri said he believes the Castillo family will file obstruction of justice and disbarment cases against the frat members mentioned in the chat thread.
TO KEEP THE LEADER IN DETENTION
Meanwhile, Zubiri said senators are likely to keep the fraternity leader they have held in detention for refusing to answer "until members of the Senate committee deem that he is able to give the right answer or to tell the truth or actual cases have been filed and the court takes over the hearings."
Aegis Jvris Grand Praefectus, Arvin Balag, was cited in contempt after he repeatedly refused to answer questions during the hearing, and Zubiri said he is likely to be detained even after lawmakers resume session on November 13 or "until the budget hearing is approved."
"Grabe naman siya. He won’t even admit that he was a member of Aegis Jvris. It was a simple question by Senator Grace Poe, and in all the flyers, he’s there as the leader and he won’t admit that," he said.
"Ginagago na niya talaga yung committee. These are statements of facts, these are really there, it’s factual, he signs these documents. All he had to do was confirm. The problem is he’s invoking his right against self-incrimination, but he’s taking the committee for a ride so hindi talaga kami papayag," he added.
Zubiri is eyeing an amendment to the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995, which he said only "regulates" hazing.
"We will totally prohibit all forms of physical, mental, and psychological abuse on any applicant to any organization. Hindi na dapat yan. It’s such a barbaric act," he said.