MANILA - University of Sto. Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean and Aegis Jvris fraternity member on leave Nilo Divina denied Monday allegations of a cover-up in the hazing death of law school freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
Divina, who took a leave of absence from the fraternity since his designation as dean in 2009, said “[t]he theory of cover-up is not only baseless but relies on conduct that is not punishable under the Anti-Hazing Law.”
Divina was charged in a supplemental complaint affidavit executed by Atio’s parents, Horacio II and Carminia, who claimed he "had actual knowledge of Atio’s hazing."
Spouses Castillo said Divina did not inform them of Atio’s death despite his alleged knowledge that “a certain Castillo” neophyte had died as early as September 17, or a day after news broke about Atio’s death.
Divina’s action of placing Aegis Jvris officers and members under preventive suspension following the incident was also raised by spouses Castillo as part of the supposed cover-up.
“[W]hile the full force of the law should be used to bring to justice those responsible for the death of Atio, we should also not allow his memory to be tainted with the persecution of innocent people in his name. For it is also a grave injustice to law the blame on innocent people by forcing a narrative of complicity on the basis of sheer conjectures and twisted logic,” Divina’s counter-affidavit read.
Divina explained that he did not know Atio. He said the claim of Castillo's parents that the freshman paid a courtesy call to the dean on September 12, on his “service week” as a fraternity neophyte, “[was] a complete and utter falsehood.”
Divina added he was unaware of Atio’s hazing, and made efforts as law school dean to implement UST’s policy prohibiting hazing, and prohibited fraternities and sororities from recruiting law school freshmen “so that the latter can focus first on their studies and make a more informed decision later on whether to join an organization or not.”
Aegis Jvris' use of his photo on its recruitment flyers “cannot by any stretch of imagination be also equaled with actual knowledge of Atio’s hazing,” Divina argued.
As to not informing Atio’s parents of his death on September 17, Divina stressed the information he had then was “unconfirmed, merely referred to the neophyte’s surname only," and minus confirmation, prudence dictated that he had to “take a more careful course of action.”
Divina went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday morning to submit his counter-affidavit on the murder, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, and obstruction of justice charges ahead of the continuation of the case’s preliminary investigation at 2:00 p.m.
COMPLAINT PUSHED BY PERSONAL AGENDA
Divina lamented how the focus on Atio’s case has suddenly changed “from the perpetators to ‘the dean,’” descibing this as “far from subtle.”
Without naming names, he hit the lawyers for spouses Castillo, led by Atty. Lorna Kapunan, for pushing their own “personal agenda.”
“The supplemental complaint-affidavits against me… are not just the products of an afterthought. these are the products of the crude maneuverings of persons who claim to represent and care about the complainants but in truth are pursuing their own personal agenda.”
Again, without mentioning her name, Divina pointed out that Kapunan "is the same lawyer who had been trying to implicate me and my law firm in the impeachment complaint filed against the then chairman of the Commission on Elections (Andres Bautista).”
“It is also of public knowledge that this same lawyer had publicized the filing of a disbarment complaint against me and 20 other lawyers of DivinaLaw in connection with the Comelec issue,” the counter-affidavit read.
Aside from Divina, his fellow Aegis Jvris Foundation trustees Arthur B. Capili, William S. Merginie, and Edwin C. Uy also filed their respective counter-affidavits on Monday morning. Because of this, they are no longer expected to attend the afternoon hearing.
The preliminary investigation into the complaint is being conducted by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, and Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado.