Atio's parents insist son died of hazing, torture

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2017 06:02 PM

Horacio Castillo III is seen in this undated photo uploaded on his Facebook account last May

MANILA- The parents of slain law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III insist that their son died as a result of “torture” and “hazing” in the hands of “his ‘brothers,’” and not because of a preexisting heart condition as alleged by respondent members of the Aegis Jvris fraternity. 

This position was reiterated on Thursday by Horacio II and Carminia in their reply affidavit to the counter-affidavits earlier filed by respondents to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Castillos debunked respondents' claim their son died of “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,” which supposedly explained his enlarged heart. The couple pointed out that respondents merely relied on a “provisional cause of death.” 

“Atio, our young boy of 22 years, was tortured and killed by men who were supposedly his ‘brothers,’ some of whom are still nameless, in the barbaric and senseless tradition of hazing.

“[T]he cause of death of our son, Atio, was clearly severe blunt traumatic injuries of hid upper arms, which resulted in rhabdomyolysis (skeletal muscle breakdown), which in turn resulted in acute kidney failure,” spouses Castillo’s reply affidavit read, citing a final autopsy report by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, which included histopathological findings. 

A University of Santo Tomas student, the 22-year-old Castillo passed away at the Chinese General Hospital on Sept.17 after he allegedly went through fatal hazing rites under the Aegis Jvris fraternity.

His death has again put the spotlight on fraternities and their culture of hazing, prompting a Senate inquiry. 

The Castillos explained that it in the same histopathological report, “[t]he mechanism of death from traumatic soft tissue injuries (in this case swollen arms with hematomas based on autopsy and with history of hazing), will cause rhabdomyolysis (skeletal muscle breakdown) resulting to electrolyte imbalance and acute kidney injury.”

“Increased potassium in the blood, and decrease calcium in the blood due to muscle trauma will cause immediate death from cardiac failure… Thus, it is beyond dispute that Atio’s injuries, which he sustained as a result of the hazing inflicted upon him by Aegis Jvris, is evidently serious in nature as to have been the proximate cause of his death,” the reply affidavit read.

The Castillos also cited the concurrence of University of the Philippines College of Medicine forensic pathologist Dr. Maria Cecilia Lim during the Senate hearing last Nov. 6, where she stated “I would agree with the acute kidney failure, secondary to the rhabdomyolysis, secondary to the multiple blunt force trauma.”

The Castillos stressed “there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a well-founded belief that respondent-members participated in the hazing of Atio.”

As to respondents’ assertion the supposed chat messages of alleged fraternity members submitted as evidence in the case still need to be authenticated, the Castillos pointed out that “preliminary investigation is not the occasion for an exhaustive display of evidence and the issue of admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence is a matter of defense which must be ventilated in a full-blown trial.”

The Castillos called on respondents to “come forth” and give justice to their son’s death.

“[W]hy should violence be the measure of strong ties? There is no humanity in hazing, much less brotherhood… Thus, we call on the brothers from Aegis Jvris: stand true to your name. Be the shield of justice for Atio, even if it is only for this first and last time. We ask the members of Aegis Jvris, new and old,’ come forth. Answer the clarion call and ‘do not injustice’ not only to us, but to the memory of Atio as well.”

The next setting of the case is on Nov. 16 for the submission of rejoinder affidavits.

The preliminary investigation into the complaint is being handled by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, and Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado.