DOJ to review need for clarificatory hearing over 'Atio' case

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2017 07:06 PM

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

MANILA- The Department of Justice (DOJ) will decide whether to hold clarificatory hearings in connection with the criminal complaints about the alleged hazing death of law freshman Horacio “Atio" Castillo III.

DOJ investigating panel members Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva, and Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendel Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado will go over all the submissions of complainants and respondents before they will decide if there is a need to hold clarificatory hearings, to be set on the first and second week of December. 

If there is no more need to hold such hearings, the case will be considered submitted for resolution following Thursday’s submission of rejoinder affidavits by respondents.

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. 

Among those who filed rejoinder affidavits on the murder, hazing, perjury, robbery, and obstruction of justice case were John Paul Solano, who admitted giving Castillo first aid treatment and brought the latter to the Chinese General Hospital; Mhin Wei Chan; and reported Aegis Jvris Fraternity master initiator Axel Hipe.

The three respondents presented three “medical experts” namely, lawyer Floresto P. Arizala, Jr., MD, former chief of the National Bureau of Investigation Medico-Legal Department; Dr. Rodel V. Capule; and Dr. Bu C. Castro to dispute complainant Manila Police District and spouses Horacio II and Carminia Castillo’s claims that the 22-year-old died from injuries sustained during his “final rites” on September 17.

Respondents claimed the histopathology report of Supt. Joseph C. Palmero, also a physician, is “out of this world” because “there is no such thing as cause of death due to hazing.” 

Respondents argued Palmero is not a licensed pathologist and therefore “incompetent to conduct histopathology examination on the tissues of Horacio, much less to prepare and issue the said Histopath Findings.”

Complainants have insisted Castiloo 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 fratmen.

“[T]he cause of death of our son, Atio, was clearly severe blunt traumatic injuries of his upper arms, which resulted in rhabdomyolysis (skeletal muscle breakdown), which in turn resulted in acute kidney failure,” spouses Castillos argued in their reply affidavit, citing the final autopsy report by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, which included the assailed histopathological findings.

Castillo's death is also being investigated, for purposes of amendments to the Anti-Hazing Law, by the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Justice and Human Rights, and Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Code.