MANILA - The violence inflicted upon law freshman Horacio Castillo III during fraternity initiation rites was "not enough" to kill him, a suspect in his death said Friday.
John Paul Solano, a medical technologist who is a member of the Aegis Jvris fraternity, said in his counter-affidavit that a medico legal report showed that Castillo had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition that increases the risk of heart failure.
An autopsy had earlier found that Castillo, 22, died of massive injuries consistent with hazing when he went through the fraternity initiation rites in September.
Solano said he tried to slap Castillo, checked his pulse and pupils, and even administered CPR on the victim, when he was called by the members of the fraternity after the neophyte "collapsed."
Solano had been one of the first suspects named after he was seen rushing Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital on the morning of Sept. 17, where the victim was declared dead upon arrival.
"Nung time na yun, di mo masabi na that the damages are ganun ka-enough to kill a person, so we would base everything sa medico legal result," he told ANC's Headstart.
Solano said one of his "doctor friends" who was a specialist had told him that excessive beating would "most commonly" manifest in the kidneys; but Castillo's medico legal said his kidneys were "grossly normal."
"That (the violence) is not enough, I think, because based on the report, it is not enough since the kidneys did not explode, the kidneys were normal...It’s the HCM (that killed him) because it’s prevalent on athletes and young persons," he said.
Solano, who is facing charges of murder, robbery, and violation of the anti-hazing law, said he cited Castillo's pre-existing heart condition to protect himself and not other members of the fraternity.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, quoting former Aegis Jvris officer Marc Ventura, revealed on Wednesday that members of the fraternity repeatedly punched Castillo, hit him with a spatula, and struck him with a paddle during the initiation rites.
Ventura also claimed that the Castillo was supposed to be hit with a paddle 11 times, but the 22-year-old collapsed on the fourth blow. When he regained consciousness, Castillo was struck another time, but collapsed once more.
The fraternity members also allegedly tried to rouse Castillo by dripping candle wax on him, but to no avail.
Solano recalled that he also went through violent initiation rites, including being hit on the thighs, but he could not particularly state that he was paddled because he was blindfolded at that time.
He said he could not determine if Castillo had been hit on the thighs too because the victim was already clothed when he got there.
He added he did not take Castillo to the nearest hospital because he was "under tremendous stress," and it was not him who was calling the shots.
"Hindi ako yung nagda-drive. I was following them since they were the ones leading," he said.
"Sumama ako dahil gusto kong makita kung mabubuhay siya dahil gusto kong mabuhay siya since yun naman ang aim at goal ko kaya ako nagpunta doon. Without knowing kung ano ang nangyari, basta sabi nilang nag-collapse, nagpunta ako dun kasi gusto kong tumulong," he added.
'BLINDLY FOLLOWED' ORDERS
Solano also said he was "blindly following" an order from the fraternity leader when he claimed that he saw Castillo's body in Tondo, Manila.
Solano had previously said Aegis Jvris Grand Praefectus Arvin Balag asked him to lie and tell the staff at the Chinese General Hospital that he found Castillo's body in Balut, Tondo.
In the interview, however, Solano said he did not know if Balag and the other members of the fraternity were trying to cover up Castillo's death during their initiation rites.
"For me it’s not because I was just blindly following a (brother)...Technically, he did not directly tell me (to cover up). Sinabi lang niya sa akin na ‘Sabihin mo nakita mo sa Tondo'," he said.
Asked if he believes Balag was planning to cover up the death with the instructions, Solano said: "Hindi ko po ma-comment kasi hindi po ako yung nasa place nila. Hindi ko po alam kung yun ang intent nila since yung lang ang sinabi niya."
"Baka ang intent nila is ‘Sabihin mo lang na ganiyan para maka-alis ka.’ I cannot comment on their judgment," he said.
Solano, who is facing charges of murder, robbery and violation of the anti-hazing law, also insisted that he had no intention to cover up the crime when he followed Balag’s order.
“For me, dahil wala akong intention, hindi sya cover up," he said.