MANILA - (UPDATED) The University of Santo Tomas Office of Student Affairs admitted Monday Aegis Jvris fraternity members were allowed to participate in a freshmen orientation for this academic year.
This, despite some of the fraternity's members being suspended after being linked to a brawl at the entrance lobby of the Manila Hotel during last year's Bar exam season.
Student Affairs Director Socorro Guan Hing said all organizations are allowed to attend the freshman orientation with the presumption that they followed the application process for recognition. But she stressed that recruitment is not allowed.
"During the time they conducted orientation, it is presumed all papers of all organizations are in place. That orientation is not meant for recruitment," she told senators during an inquiry into the death of UST law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.
But organizations, including Aegis Jvris, were allowed to present their group during the orientation, said UST Civil Law student council president Jonathan Santos, based on the presumption of compliance.
UST civil law dean Nilo Divina clarified that Aegis Jvris was officially not recognized by UST only in September 2017, when classes resumed due to non-compliance with requirements.
"In June, they are deemed to be compliant. Only in September that they are deemed to be non-complaint. It was mentioned and stressed that recruitment is not allowed for freshmen students," he said.
Castillo, a law freshman, died on September after undergoing fraternity rites of Aegis Jvris. Autopsy shows Castillo died of cardiac arrest due to massive injury consistent with hazing.
During Monday's hearing, senators berated UST officials over what they described was inaction over the death.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, a friend of Castillo's parents, said if the students knew that the school did not accredit Aegis Jvris for the current academic year, Castillo would not have wanted to join.
"If you are suspended, or you are not recognized...alam po ng mga estudyante na may problema ang fraternity na ito kaya hindi nila sasalihan. Dahil sa inaction ninyo na magpalabas ng notice na hindi sila recognized, yung anak nina Mr. and Mrs. Castillo sumali sa inyong fraternity thinking it was a duly recognized, duly registered, accredited fraternity," he said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also expressed disappointment over the school's non-intervention in monitoring fraternities operating inside the university even after Castillo's death.
"I'm quite disappointed dahil even after this incident, parang hindi nyo pa alam ang detalye, and it's just business as usual for all of you," he said.
"This is not an ordinary activity that they will submit to you and ask for your permission; this is a criminal act. I'd like to urge you to go deeper in this problem and come up with a more proactive approach," he added.