Atio died of pre-existing heart condition, not hazing: suspect

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2017 08:35 PM

Atio died of pre-existing heart condition, not hazing: suspect 1
Horacio Castillo III is seen in this undated photo uploaded on his Facebook account last May.

Castillo family slams Solano: 'You're not a doctor'

MANILA - Law freshman Horacio "Atio" Castillo III may have died of a pre-existing heart condition and not hazing, suspect John Paul Solano said Tuesday in answering murder and other charges filed against him before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

This even as an autopsy had found that Castillo, 22, died of massive injuries consistent with hazing when he went through Aegis Jvris fraternity initiation rites in September. 

In his counter-affidavit, Solano, also a medical technologist, pointed out that a medico legal report showed that Castillo had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition that increases the risk of heart failure.

"HCM could not have been caused by hazing or any physical activity. Patients with HCM have an increased risk for cardiac failure. If it is true that Horacio died of cardiac arrest, the death of Horacio is not due to hazing but of cardiac arrest due to his HCM," said Solano.

He added that the medico legal report showed that the student's heart was "grossly enlarged" -- a detail, he said, the complainants and the Manila Police District "conveniently omitted" to "cover up the fact that the death of Horacio was brought about by cardiac failure due to his HCM and not due to hazing."

Horacio Castillo Jr., the victim's father, meanwhile refuted Solano's claims, saying "blunt trauma" caused his son's death.

“What led to my son’s death is because of blunt trauma, meaning, coming from hazing; that caused extreme pain and suffering to my son,” the elder Castillo said.

“He (Solano) is not a doctor, he’s a medical technologist. Get a cardiologist to explain [my son's heart condition]," he added.

A University of Santo Tomas student, Castillo told his parents that he would be attending initiation rites of the Aegis Jvris fraternity last Sept. 16 but never made it home. 

He succumbed to heart attack due to "massive injuries" he sustained in initiation rites. It was Solano who rushed him to the hospital on the morning of Sept. 17, but was declared dead upon arrival. 

Castillo's death again put the spotlight on fraternities and their culture of hazing, prompting a Senate inquiry aimed to strengthen the anti-hazing law. 

Solano, who is facing charges of murder, robbery, and violation of the anti-hazing law, had identified in a Senate executive session several fraternity brothers present at the initiation rites and how he was called to respond to a "half-dead" Castillo that Sunday morning. 

His testimony was revealed in a public Senate hearing last week. 

Atio died of pre-existing heart condition, not hazing: suspect 2
John Paul Solano, one of the primary suspects in the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio Castillo III, after appearing at a Senate hearing Sept. 25, 2017. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

In his testimony, Solano claimed that he was not present during Castillo's initiation rites. A "brod," Oliver John Onofre, was the one who called him and asked him to check on the law freshman when he had collapsed, he said.

Solano said Castillo was no longer responding when he arrived. Aegis Jvris President Arvin Balag then allegedly told him to lie to hospital personnel when they brought Castillo's body. 

He admitted running away from home after what happened out of fear. He said he then decided to surface when he ran out of money while in hiding around Tarlac and Pangasinan.

Aside from Solano, suspect Ralph Trangia, along with his parents, also filed sworn statements at the DOJ.

Trangia and several other members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity are also facing charges of murder, robbery, and violation of the anti-hazing law over Castillo's death.

-- with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News