Frat men bickered before bringing Castillo to hospital, witness says

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2017 10:10 PM

MANILA - Aegis Jvris frat men argued among themselves over the best thing to do instead of rushing Horacio "Atio" Castillo III to a hospital when he collapsed during initiation rites last September 17, according to an ABS-CBN News source privy to a sworn statement by fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura.

Ventura, who admitted being present at Castillo's "final rites" inside the fraternity library in Sampaloc, Manila, sought the protection of the Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program (WPP) on Tuesday in exchange for his testimony. 

Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed portions of Ventura's testimony at a news conference Wednesday. 

The ABS-CBN News source revealed that Ventura's affidavit, executed in Filipino, narrates that fellow Robin Ramos urged fellow frat men to bring Atio to a hospital when the latter fell unconscious and unresponsive to stimuli like candle drippings on his feet. 

Aegis Jvris grand praefectus Arvin Balag allegedly rejected suggestions to bring Castillo to a hospital. 

Balag also reportedly instructed Aegis Jvris members to give Castillo time to rest when he collapsed after the first 5 paddle hits. 

Ventura said Balag was worried those who would bring Castillo to the hospital would be detained. 

After some discussion, Balag allegedly gave in and agreed to have Castillo brought to a hospital. The frat men then loaded Atio into a red pickup truck owned by Ralph Trangia and driven by Balag's driver.

However, Balag later said he was able to talk to someone and instructed Aegis Jvris members to bring Castillo back inside the frat library. 

Ventura said Axel Hipe, whom he identified as "Master Initiator," gave Castillo CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Castillo vomited during the process, said Ventura. 

John Paul Solano, who arrived after Atio was brought back inside the frat library, allegedly repeated the resuscitation attempt. 

Ventura said Solano instructed the group to massage Castillo's limbs. At around this time, Solano told the group Castillo's pulse was already borderline.

It was Solano who suggested thereafter that Castillo be taken to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, according to Ventura.

However, Castillo was brought to the Chinese General Hospital by Solano, who told emergency room staff he merely found him at a sidewalk in Tondo and did not know him personally. Solano would later retract this statement.

Balag, through Facebook chat, allegedly instructed the group to "go on code of silence, deactivate." 

Apart from those earlier charged, Ventura named 9 other frat men who were present during "final rites."

Ventura narrated Atio was first asked to do "duck walk," a phase which includes "hahatakin o itutulak ng mga Master," according to the ABS-CBN source. 

Ventura said the frat prayed for "guidance and safety" before Castillo's "final rites."